October 07, 2020
FILE – New recruits belonging to Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebel group march during a passing out parade at a military training base in Afgoye, west of the capital Mogadishu February 17, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS
By Abdi Guled | The Associated Press
MOGADISHU, Somalia – The al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab has released two Cuban doctors who were kidnapped in Kenya and held for a year and a half in neighbouring Somalia, officials say.
A senior Somali intelligence official told The Associated Press that the doctors were released over the weekend after months of negotiations with their captors. He declined to give further details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Several sources told the AP that Somali intelligence, acting at the request of the Cuban government, negotiated for the doctors’ release after it obtained a video showing them a few months ago.
Bruno Rodríguez, Cuba’s foreign minister, in a social media post confirmed their release and thanked the Somali government for its help. He said he had spoken with Somalia’s foreign minister, Ahmed Isse Awad.
It was not immediately clear where the doctors were Wednesday.
Suspected Islamic extremists kidnapped the doctors in Kenya’s Mandera County as they were going to work in April 2019, killing one of their police bodyguards. The orthopedic surgeon and physician had been deployed in 2018.
At the time, the Somalia-based al-Shabab was suspected of the kidnapping. The extremist group has vowed retribution against Kenya for sending troops to Somalia to fight the extremists.