Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said Saturday it was “constantly” in touch with the Cuban government over the abduction of two of its nationals—the two doctors—abducted from Mandera while headed to work.
The two doctors, who are part of a team of 100 sent to Kenya last year, were abducted on Friday morning by Al Shabaab terrorists, and taken to Somalia, in incident that left one of two police officers escorting them killed.
“We have been reminded, again, of the evil machinations of international criminal networks. Two Cuban doctors were abducted in Mandera, while on their way to work and a security officer fatally injured,” said Monica Juma, the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, “Security agencies are engaged in the search and rescue mission to ensure safe return. We (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are also in contact with the Government of Cuba.”
Earlier, Police Headquarters had announced that security forces were working with their Somalia counterparts in a bid to trace and rescue two Cuban doctors.
According to the National Police Service (NPS) headquarters, the approach is necessary since the attackers, suspected to be Al-Shabaab militants crossed into Somalia following the 9am incident.
“Our objective is to rescue the victims,” Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai said in a statement.
An administration Police officer who was among two escorting the doctors was killed during the incident that has raised fresh security concerns in the volatile region.
The driver who was taking the doctors from their residential area to work has since been arrested and was being interrogated according to police.
The vehicle, belonging to the Mandera County Government was also recovered.
The two doctors are part of a group of about 100 Cubans who came to Kenya last year to help boost health services in a deal signed between Havana and Nairobi.
The doctors were deployed to the region at a time most Kenyan health workers had abandoned it citing security fears.
Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants have been waging an insurgency against Somalia’s foreign-backed government for over a decade, and while it has lost some ground, it continues to stage deadly attacks.
The terrorists were behind the 2013 attack on Westgate mall that left 67 people dead.
Two years later, on April 2, they attacked Garissa University College, killing 148 people a majority of them being students- this has been termed as Kenya’s worst terror attack.
On January 15, the militants attacked the 14 Riverside Drive complex killing 21 people.
Kenya Defence Forces are part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) engaging Al-Shabaab and though they have been weakened, they still pose a serious security threat to the region.