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Cuban government denies alleged release of doctors kidnapped in Kenya

Cuban government denies alleged release of doctors kidnapped in Kenya

The Cuban government has denied recent news about the alleged release of Cuban doctors Assel Herrera and Landy Rodríguez, kidnapped in April 2019 in Kenya by alleged members of the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, Cubadebate reported. 

“I deny the information that circulated at dawn today on the alleged release of the two kidnapped Cuban doctors, Assel Herrera Correa and Landy Rodríguez Hernández,” wrote Juan Antonio Fernández, general director of Press, Communication and Image of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX), on Twitter.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman assured that enormous efforts are being made to ensure the doctors’ release and safe return to Cuba.

The official reaction was made known a few minutes after the news that affirmed that the two doctors had been released in Somalia was known.

According to AP, the doctors were released over the weekend after months of negotiations with their captors, said a senior Somali intelligence official, who declined to provide further details.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to report to the media.

According to EFE, which also cites an anonymous source from Somali intelligence, the Cuban doctors were released on the 4th.

“They were handed over by the Somali Intelligence Agency (NISA) safely to the Cuban government. Right now they are back in Cuba,” the source explained to the news agency.

Surgeon Landy Rodríguez and general medicine specialist Assel Herrera were kidnapped on April 12, 2019, when the car in which they were traveling to the hospital in the border town of Mandera was attacked by alleged members of the terrorist organization Al-Shabaab.

In the operation, the bodyguard who was traveling with the Cuban doctors was killed. Months later the driver of the car was charged with terrorism for his alleged complicity in the kidnapping of the specialists who, according to reports from the Kenyan security forces, were taken to Somalia.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez spoke by phone this Monday with his Somali counterpart, Ahmed Isse Awad, to discuss the issue of the Cuban doctors held captive for almost a year and six months.

“I had a telephone conversation with Somalian Foreign Minister Mr. Ahmed Isse Awad. I appreciated the support and efforts of his government to guarantee the safe return of our kidnapped doctors,” the island’s minister of foreign affairs published on his Twitter account.

Rodríguez also wrote that during the dialogue with his Somali counterpart, “the will to strengthen bilateral ties between the two governments” was highlighted.

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