Gunmen abduct Cuban doctors near Kenya's border with Somalia

The two doctors working for the Kenyan government were taken in the northeastern town Mandera, according to local media.

    Mandera has been the scene of frequent attacks in which dozens of civilians and security personnel have been killed [Reuters]
    Mandera has been the scene of frequent attacks in which dozens of civilians and security personnel have been killed [Reuters]

    Unidentified gunmen abducted two Cuban doctors and shot dead a police officer near Kenya's border with Somalia, Kenyan media reported on Friday.

    The Daily Nation said the attackers drove off with the doctors, who are employed by the Kenyan government, after the shooting in Mandera in the northeast of the country.

    KTN News said police suspected the doctors and their abductors, thought to be members of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group, had gone into Somalia.

    Kenyan Citizen television footage showed police officers setting up a roadblock on a road leading to the border.

    Ali Roba, the governor of Mandera, said in a statement that the gunmen's vehicle blocked the doctors' vehicle "and opened fire at their bodyguards, killing one instantly".

    The abductors might have taken the doctors to Somalia, police spokesman Charles Owino said. He said the doctors' driver had been detained to help with investigations.

    A police official identified the doctors as Dr Assel Herera Correa, a general physician, and Dr Landy Rodriguez, a surgeon.

    They were stationed at the Mandera County Referral Hospital as part of a group of about 100 Cubans who came to Kenya last year to help boost health services.

    Mandera has been the scene of frequent attacks in which dozens of civilians and security personnel have been killed. Al-Shabab has taken responsibility for most of them.

    In November, armed attackers wounded five people including two children and kidnapped an Italian charity worker in Chakama, a small town near the Kenyan coast and south of the Somali border. The fate of the Italian woman is unknown.

    Frequent assaults

    Al-Shabab is fighting to topple Somalia's central government and establish its own rule based on strict interpretation of Islamic law.

    The group also conducts frequent assaults in Kenya, mostly in the region bordering Somalia, to put pressure on the Kenyan government to withdraw its troops from Somalia.

    On Tuesday, the US embassy had upgraded its travel warning for Kenya, listing "do not travel" for Mandera county.

    "Exercise increased caution in Kenya due to crime, terrorism and kidnapping," the warning read.

    SOURCE: News agencies