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Al-Shabaab release two Cuban doctors abducted last year

North Eastern

Al-Shabaab terror group has released two Cuban doctors who were kidnapped from Mandera town in April last year.

According to the Associated Press citing an intelligence official, the doctors were released at the weekend after months of negotiations with their captors.

They had been in the hands of the captors for a year and a half.  The AP said Somali intelligence acting at the request of the Cuban government negotiated for the release of the doctors after it received a video showing them a few months ago.

Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in a tweet the two had been released and thanked the Somali government for its help.

He said he had spoken with Somali's Foreign Minister Ahmed Isse Awad over the developments.

Kenyan security officials said they had heard of the release of the two doctors but were not aware of their whereabouts.

It is not clear if there was a ransom that had been paid for their release. The captors had demanded a ransom for their release.

But an official aware of the developments said they had been monitoring the negotiations for long.

The terrorists kidnapped the doctors as they were going to work on April 12, 2019 killing one of the bodyguards who were attached to them.

Days later, the driver of the car was charged with terrorism for his alleged complicity in the kidnapping of the two doctors.

The doctors, an orthopedic surgeon and a physician were taken to Somalia through the main border in Mandera after a shooting as they were being bundled away.

The doctors were identified as Assel Herrera and Landy Rodriguez (pictured) and were part of a 100-member Cuban team that had come to Kenya for work under an agreement between the two countries.

After the incident, some of their colleagues who were near the Kenya-Somalia border were moved to a safer place.

Senior Cuban officials visited Kenya after the incident in efforts to secure their release. The incident prompted authorities in Mandera to change their tactics and among others pushed for the construction of a perimeter wall at the main border and employ private security to boost the security operations there.

Al-Shabaab terrorists have been striking Kenyan towns along the main border in a series of incidents after defying the security checks in the area.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since the 1991 overthrow of President Siad Barre's military regime, which ushered in more than two decades of anarchy and conflict in a country deeply divided along clan lines.

Kenyan troops are in Somalia to address Al-Shabaab menace. Kenya launched Operation Linda Nchi on October 14, 2011, after gunmen seized tourists at the Coast which the government saw as a threat to the country's sovereignty as it targeted the nation's economic lifeline-tourism.

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