Cuba Speaker meets Ruto over fate of doctors under Al-Shabaab captivity

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NAIROBI, Kenya - Lazo Hernandez, the Cuban House speaker, recently held a meeting with President William Ruto over the fate of the doctors abducted by Al-Shabaab over five years ago, whose whereabouts remain a major nightmare.

Last week, the jihadist group released a report claiming the two doctors have since been killed, accusing the US Africa Command of triggering a drone strike in the region where they were hosted. The US confirmed the airstrike but asked for more time to investigate the incident.

The critical security meeting in Nairobi was attended by Hernandez, President William Ruto, and Defense Minister Aden Duale. Later, reports indicate, Hernandez held a meeting with his Kenyan counterpart Moses Wetangula, who at one time served as Foreign Affairs minister.

“Lazo has traveled to Kenya to engage in urgent procedures with the highest authorities of that country," the Cuban ministry said in a statement published on Tuesday.

He is "searching for cooperation and clarification, in the light of the recent news published about the possible non-confirmed death of doctors Assel Herrera Correa and Landy Rodriguez Hernandez, who were kidnapped in that country on April 12, 2019."

The February 15th airstrike purportedly killed the two captives but the US is investigating the authenticity of the reports. The al-Shabaab released a lengthy statement condemning Jilib, arguing that it targeted innocent civilians.

The U.S. Africa Command, in a statement to AFP on Monday, confirmed that an air strike had been conducted against the al-Shabab network near Jilib on that date.

"We are aware of reports of a strike alleged to have killed two civilians," it said.

Suspected jihadists seized the two medics in the northeastern Kenyan town of Mandera, where they worked at the local hospital, and took them across the nearby border into Somalia.

Kenya had a medical deal with Cuba, where close to 100 medics were deployed to the country as part of a partnership in healthcare. Surgeon Landy Rodríguez and general medicine specialist Assel Herrera were held captive in 2019 after Al-Shabaab ambushed them in Mandera, a northeastern town in Kenya.

GAROWE ONLINE

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