Kenya reiterated this Saturday to Cuba it’s “intense” efforts for the return of the Cuban doctors kidnapped more than three weeks ago on the border of that country with Somalia, Cuban Minister of Public Health José Ángel Portal reported on Twitter.
“In a new conversation held today with the minister of health of Kenya, as part of the efforts of our government for the safe return of the two kidnapped Cuban doctors, she confirmed the intense efforts being made by the Kenyan authorities in this regard,” wrote the Cuban minister on the social network.
Portal did not specify if the dialogue with his Kenyan counterpart, Sicily Kariuki, took place by telephone or through other means.
The ministers of health of Cuba and Kenya had already established communication on April 23, when the African nation assured the island that they were still investigating the case.
Cuban doctors Landy Rodríguez and Assel Herrera were abducted on Friday, April 12 by alleged members of the Somali jihadist group Al Shabaab in the Kenyan city of Mandera, which borders Somalia.
Rodríguez, a surgeon from the central province of Villa Clara, and Herrera, a specialist in Integral General Medicine from the eastern province of Las Tunas, were traveling with an armed escort to the hospital in Mandera, when they were intercepted and kidnapped after a shooting incident in which one of the police officers who accompanied them died.
The two kidnapped doctors are part of a contingent of 100 Cuban doctors who arrived last year in Kenya under an agreement signed between the two countries to improve access to specialized medical services in the African nation.
Given the proximity to Somalia, the Kenyan authorities believe Al Shabaab could be behind the incident. This group joined Al Qaeda in 2012 and, although it operates in Somalia, usually makes incursions into neighboring Kenya to perpetrate attacks.
On the same day of the events, the Cuban government established contacts with its peers in Kenya and Somalia and created a working group to follow up on the case of the kidnapped doctors, who are still unaccounted for.
A little over a week later, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel spoke by telephone with his Kenyan and Somali counterparts, Uhuru Kenyatta and Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, respectively, about the actions to recover the doctors.
The Cuban minister of health has assured that “the other members of the Cuban medical brigade in Kenya are well, offering their services to the people of that country.”