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Kenya rules out ransom to Al Shabaab for release of Cuban doctors

The two doctors were kidnapped on Friday from Mandera.

KISUMU, Kenya Apr 14 – The Kenyan government has ruled out possibilities of paying a ransom to secure the release of two Cuban doctors abducted from Mandera by Al Shabaab terrorists on Friday.

Owino said the government will professionally attempt to rescue the doctors without paying any sum of money for the release of the two doctors Assel Herera Correa and Landy Rodriguez.

“We would not encourage payment of ransom to criminals as a matter of procedure because that would encourage kidnappings. We’ll use methods provided for in law while carrying out our duties,” he told a news conference in lake side city of Kisumu on Saturday, and welcomed an initiative by Somali elders both in Kenya and Somalia to try and negotiate for the release of the doctors.

He said any negotiations by the elders will not stall a government multi-agency team working round the clock to release the kidnapped doctors.

“If there are any negotiations to release the doctors then so be it. Our major interest is to have the doctors back and we will continue to do our work to ensure that happens,” the police spokesperson said.

Owino said the National Security Advisory Committee will be meeting more frequently to review the situation.

He said the Ministry of Health and that of Foreign Affairs are in close contact with their counterparts in Cuba to brief them on efforts underway to secure the release of the two doctors.

The two doctors, who are part of a team of 100 sent to Kenya last year, were abducted on Friday morning by Al Shabaab terrorists, and taken to Somalia, in incident that left one of two police officers escorting them killed.

“We have been reminded, again, of the evil machinations of international criminal networks. Two Cuban doctors were abducted in Mandera, while on their way to work and a security officer fatally injured,” said Monica Juma, the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, “Security agencies are engaged in the search and rescue mission to ensure safe return. We (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are also in contact with the Government of Cuba.”

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The driver who was taking the doctors from their residential area to work has since been arrested and was being interrogated according to police.

In Cuba, AFP news agency reported that a health ministry statement was read on television on Friday saying: “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.”

The government has assured of the country’s security despite yesterday’s abduction of two Cuban doctors from Mandera.
The National Security Advisory Committee that held a meeting on Saturday assured that government security forces were doing ‘everything possible to secure the country’.

“We would like to assure all members of the public and the international community that our country is safe as our agencies remain vigilant and will spare no effort safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of all Kenyans,” NSAC said at the end of their meeting, in a statement issued by Police Spokesman Charles Owino.

The committee chaired by Secretary to the Cabinet Joseph Kinyua draws members from key security organs at the top level.

While no substantive update was provided on the search for the kidnapped doctors, Police Spokesman Charles Owino said all efforts are being made to secure release of the doctors who were taken away by the terrorists, as they headed to work in Mandera county hospital.

“Concerted efforts are being made for their search and rescue by a multi-agency security team,” Owino said.

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