Al-Shabab militants are suspected in the abduction of two Cuban doctors working in Mandera, a Kenyan town on the border with Somalia. Kenyan police say the two were abducted at 9 a.m. Friday and taken into Somali territory.
Kenya’s police spokesperson Charles Owino told reporters that the two doctors, Assel Herera Correa and Landy Rodriguez, along with their security escorts, were on their way to work at the Mandera referral hospital when they were kidnapped.
“Under the escort of two police officers, one officer from administration police and the other one from Kenya police service, respectively, along the way they were blocked by two Probox cars. Unfortunately the administration police officer was shot and fatally wounded. The criminals commandeered the car and the occupants across the border to Somalia.”
The two doctors are part of a group of 100 Cuban physicians who came to Kenya last year under a bilateral agreement aimed at improving health services in the country.
Herera and Rodriguez were posted to Mandera County, an area that is considered insecure because of its close proximity to Somalia and its record of multiple al-Shabab attacks, often directed toward non-locals.
The two doctors had 24-hour security protection.
This is the second abduction of a foreigner in Kenya in a span of six months.
In November last year, Italian volunteer Silvia Romano was abducted by gunmen in Malindi, Kilifi County. Somalia-based Islamists are thought to have been behind the abduction.
Al-Shabab militants continue to wage a war against Somalia’s foreign-backed government and have carried out numerous attacks in Kenya.
The latest was on January 15 when the terror group claimed responsibility for an attack on a Nairobi office complex in which at least 21 people were killed.
As for the Cuban doctors, Kenyan authorities said Friday that all security agencies had been mobilized and they are pursuing the assailants.
The doctors’ driver was being held for questioning.