According to local press, Assel Herrera Correa and Landy Rodriguez Hernandez are in the vicinity of Gedo, near El Adde in Somalia, in good condition, and practicing their profession.
Police inspector Hilary Mutyambai updated the situation Tuesday for local media. “Our work as police ends at the border. … I am not in a position to account for the fate of the Cuban doctors, but we have a team working on it,” he said.
In July a security report indicated that the doctors were transported to the Halaanquo forest, near the city of Barawe, where they allegedly converted to Islam.
Surgeon Landy Rodriguez and general medicine specialist Assel Herrera Correa’s trail was lost April 12 when they were traveling in an official vehicle in order to work in the Mandera Hospital, near the Somali border.
That day Rodriguez and Herrera were escorted “as is customary,” Kenyan police spokesman Charles Owino confirmed at the time.
Nevertheless, the convoy was intercepted by armed men who killed one of the police officers in a gun battle, kidnapped the doctors, and took them to Somali territory.
A group of elder leaders from Kenya and Somalia went to the Somali region of Jubaland, controlled by Al Shabab, to negotiate on behalf of the Cubans.
The tribal leaders said that the kinappers demanded payment of about 1.5 million dollars in exchange for their liberation. “The figure was higher than that reported in the media,” said one of the negotiators, who specified that the parties did not come to an agreement.
The government of Kenya — a country hard hit by terrorism on its northeast border since its army invaded Kenya in 2011 to pursue Al Shabab — has so far been oppposed to any payment that might encourage new kidnappings.
“They [the Somali elders] warned against sustained military attacks in their countryside to search for the Cubans, and we agreed on condition that the doctors not be harmed,” added the aforementioned traditional Kenyan leader.
Translated by Mary Lou Keel
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