Two Cuban doctors in Kenya kidnapped by suspected militants

Security officers and civilians stand next to the car where gunmen abducted two Cuban doctors as they were going to work, in Mandera county, Kenya. (Reuters)
Updated 12 April 2019

Two Cuban doctors in Kenya kidnapped by suspected militants

  • The operation happened as the two doctors — a general practitioner and a surgeon — were on the way to work in the town of Mandera, close to the border with Somalia
  • The two doctors, whose names have not been released, are part of a group of about 100 Cubans who came to Kenya last year to help boost health services

NAIROBI: Suspected Somali Al-Shabab militants kidnapped two Cuban doctors in northeastern Kenya on Friday and killed their police escort officer, officials said.
The operation happened as the two doctors — a general practitioner and a surgeon — were on the way to work in the town of Mandera, close to the border with Somalia.
“Today at around 9:00 am, suspected Al-Shabab militants abducted the two Cuban doctors stationed at the Mandera County Referral Hospital,” the county’s governor, Ali Roba said in a statement.
Kenyan police spokesman Charles Owino said the assailants used two Toyota Probox cars to block the vehicle that the doctors were traveling in.
One of the two police officers escorting them “was shot by the attackers and died on the spot. The attackers succeeded to abduct the two doctors and crossed the border with them,” said Owino.
The driver of the doctors’ vehicle was arrested “and is currently being interrogated,” he said.
“Our security officers are pursuing the attackers.”
A senior police officer, who asked not to be named, told AFP: “From the modus operandi and the fact that they went toward the Somalia border, we have reasons to believe that the kidnappers are Al-Shabab.”
The two doctors, whose names have not been released, are part of a group of about 100 Cubans who came to Kenya last year to help boost health services.
Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab militants have been waging an insurgency against Somalia’s foreign-backed government for over a decade.
Last November, an armed gang seized Silvia Romano, 23, an Italian charity worker, in the southeastern town of Chakama. Her whereabouts are unknown.
Police at the time warned against any speculation that the Shabab may have been involved in her abduction.
The Shabab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, have been fighting since 2007 to topple Somalia’s fragile government, which is supported by a 20,000-strong African Union force, Amisom.
The Shabab fled fixed positions they once held in Mogadishu in 2011, and have since lost many of their strongholds.
But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country, and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities, striking at the heart of Somalia’s government.
The group has carried out a number of attacks in Kenya in reprisal for the country’s participation in Amisom.
Kidnappings in Kenya are relatively rare but can have a devastating impact on tourism, a major income-earner.


Sanders set for ‘vigorous’ campaign return after heart scare

Updated 51 min 50 sec ago

Sanders set for ‘vigorous’ campaign return after heart scare

  • Less than three weeks after suffering a heart attack, the Democratic presidential contender is beginning what he’s calling a “vigorous” return to campaigning
  • Sanders suddenly finds himself looking up at progressive rival Elizabeth Warren and establishment favorite Joe Biden in the polls

NEW YORK: Bernie Sanders isn’t going anywhere.
Less than three weeks after suffering a heart attack, the Democratic presidential contender is beginning what he’s calling a “vigorous” return to campaigning with a rally expected to draw thousands of supporters to New York City on Saturday afternoon. One of them will be Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders’ latest high-profile endorsement, who will share the stage with Sanders this weekend and give his stagnant White House bid an instant dose of energy.
The event marks a coming-out party of sorts for the 78-year-old Vermont senator. He had emergency heart surgery this month but insists that he’s more committed than ever to his 2020 White House bid. With the first voting contests less than four months away, he has some work to do.
Beyond health concerns, Sanders suddenly finds himself looking up at progressive rival Elizabeth Warren and establishment favorite Joe Biden in the polls. Now he must reassure voters that he has the physical stamina to go forward while addressing broader concerns that his policies may be too far left to defeat President Donald Trump in a general election.
Enter Ocasio-Cortez.
The endorsement from the 30-year-old progressive star “send the message that the movement is growing, that it’s gaining influence, that it’s gaining traction,” Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir said.
He predicted that the newly announced support from Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, who will not be present Saturday, would help Sanders generate significantly more support from young people and minorities going forward.
“Those are two people who I think have immense power to mobilize young people, and I promise you you’ll be seeing them in Iowa, but not only in Iowa, but around the country, trying to get people engaged around the issues,” Shakir said.
For now, at least, Sanders can use the help.
While he pledged during this week’s presidential debate to move forward with a “vigorous” campaign, he’s moving cautiously in the short term. The rally in Queens is his only scheduled appearance before he returns to Iowa late next week.
The week after, he’ll join Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, for a tour of her congressional district. Tlaib hasn’t announced whether she’ll join Ocasio-Cortez and Omar in endorsing Sanders, but she is also part of the so-called “Squad” of minority women on Capitol Hill who has been frequent targets of Trump’s attacks.
Despite aggressive rhetoric from Sanders himself, senior adviser Jeff Weaver said Sanders would ease himself back onto the campaign trail. But by December, Weaver predicted, Sanders’ health scare will be forgotten.