Suspected Al Shabaab militants who abducted two Cuban doctors in Mandera are now demanding Sh150 million in ransom.
The ransom demand was communicated through community elders who went to a remote area between the towns of Buale and El-Ade in Jubaland region of Somalia.
This is where general practitioner Herera Corea and surgeon Landy Rodriguez are said to have been seen after being abducted on their way to work in Mandera County on April 12, this year.
After days of negotiations, community elders from Mandera and Bulahawo in Somalia who travelled to the area confirmed that the two are alive and offering treatment to the community in a restricted environment.
“They seem to be under care and offering medicare services to the locals,” said a security official who cited the elders’ message.
But officials in Mandera dismissed the claims as premature.
The officials say authorities in Kenya have sent back the elders seeking for further negotiations.
Other reports say the two were abducted by bandits who handed them over to suspected Al Shabaab militants who seek the ransom through proxies.
The abduction could have been caused by medical business rivalry in Mandera after it emerged the doctors’ presence led to a sharp drop of cost of medical services in the area.
A team of security officials from Cuba had come to Kenya and visited Mandera.
The abducted doctors are among 100 Cuban specialists who arrived in the country in June 2018.
Following the abduction, Cuban doctors posted in Wajir, Garissa and Tana River were reassigned to other counties.
A police officer who was among two escorting the doctors was killed during the incident.
The driver who was taking the doctors to work has since been arrested and was being interrogated.
In Cuba a health ministry statement read: “Channels of communication have been established immediately with the Kenyan authorities to address this situation, while keeping the collaborators’ family members here in Cuba informed. Likewise, a government working group has been set up to follow up on this sensitive issue.”
Last November, an armed gang seized Silvia Romano, 23, an Italian charity worker, in the southeastern town of Chakama.
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