Kenya assures safety amid search for kidnapped Cuban doctors

Saturday April 13 2019

Police spokesman Charles Owino briefs journalists at the Nyanza regional coordinator's office in Kisumu on operations to find the Cuban doctors kidnapped in Mandera, April 12, 2019. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By VICTOR OTIENO            

Police on Saturday assured the local and international community that Kenya is safe, amid a multi-agency search for the two Cuban doctors kidnapped in Mandera County by suspected Al-Shabaab fighters.

In a statement, the National Police Service (NPS) said concerted efforts were being made to find doctors Assel Herera Correa and Landy Rodriguez, who were abducted on Friday in a daring road ambush at Banisa stage in Mandera town.

In the incident that took place a few minutes after 9am, the attackers shot dead one of the two police officers who were escorting the medical staff to their work station.


On Saturday, police spokesman Charles Owino reported that the National Security Advisory Committee met in the morning and reviewed the status of the operation to find the doctors.

The committee then briefed Cabinet secretaries Sicily Kariuki (Health), Fred Matiang'i (Interior) and Raychelle Omamo (Defence)


"Ms Kariuki is in touch with her counterpart in Cuba, who is receiving regular briefs on the efforts to locate and rescue the doctors," Mr Owino said.

He added, "We would like to assure all members of the public and the international community that our country is safe as our security agencies remain vigilant and will spare no effort safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of all Kenya."

Mr Owino confirmed on Friday that the gunmen crossed the border into Somalia with the doctors.

In a press briefing on Saturday, he said Kenyan agencies were therefore liaising with their counterparts in Somalia in the rescue efforts.


Mr Owino ruled out the option of paying ransom to secure doctors' freedom, saying it would encourage abductions.

“We have to use professional means allowed by the law in undertaking our duties. I do not think payment of ransom is a method that is admissible," he told reports in the office of the Nyanza regional coordinator in Kisumu.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the doctors had expressed concerns over their safety before the gunmen attacked.

Of huge concern to Dr Correa, a general physician, and Dr Rodriguez, a surgeon, was the five-kilometre distance they had to cover daily from their house at Busley to their work station at the Mandera Level Four Hospital.

The two lived in a house owned by a county government official.

While the fate of the medics is unknown, a contingent of Kenya Defence Forces, various units of Kenya Police and Kenya Police Reservists have been dispatched to chase after the two vehicles used in the raid and abduction.

The driver who had been transporting the doctors to the hospital was arrested and questioned.