Cuban official jets in over fate of doctors claimed to be dead

Thursday, February 22nd, 2024 00:26 | By
Cuba’s Speaker of the National Assembly Esteban Lazo Hernandez. PHOTO/Print
Cuba’s Speaker of the National Assembly Esteban Lazo Hernandez. PHOTO/Print

Cuba’s Speaker of the National Assembly Esteban Lazo Hernandez is in the country to follow up the recent unconfirmed reports that the two Cuban doctors abducted in Kenya in 2019 were killed in a US airstrike in Somalia last week.

The Cuban foreign ministry on Tuesday said Lazo had travelled to Kenya “to engage in urgent procedures with the highest authorities” following a report by the terror group al-Shabaab which claimed that the two were killed in multiple drone strikes in the city of Jilib on Thursday last week.

Assel Herrera Correa and Landy Rodriquez Hernandez were kidnapped on April 12, 2019 in Mandera country where they worked at a local hospital before crossing with them to neighbouring Somalia.
During the 9am incident on the fateful day, two officers who were escorting them to their work station were also shot dead.

Correa, an orthopaedic surgeon and Rodrigues, a physician, were part of a 100-member Cuban team that had come to Kenya for work under an agreement between the two countries. They had been deployed in 2018 in an exchange programme.

The official will also contact the Somali government with reports indicating that the visit follows an earlier engagement with the US government on Sunday where Cuba sought further clarification on the matter.

“From the first hours of receiving news, the Cuban government gives absolute priority to the efforts that, by various means and on behalf of different international actors, are carried out in order to obtain the most objective information regarding the events, until that all possibilities to confirm the situation of our compatriots are exhausted,” the Foreign ministry said in a statement.

The US Africa Command has confirmed the airstrike on that day where it is believed two people were killed and added that the matter was serious and under investigations.

The US Africa Command spokesperson Lennea Montandon has said they are aware of the reports that two civilians were killed in the strikes.

“The command will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as available,” she said in a statement.

The Alshabaab terror group has however insisted that the two were killed, and blamed the US forces.
Multiple drone strikes

“American crusaders carried out multiple drone strikes in the city of Jilib, Islamic Wilaayah of Jubba, killing two Cuban prisoners…Thursday morning’s drone strikes against the Cuban prisoners once again sheds light on the recklessness and desperate nature of AFRICOM’s operations in Somalia, as well as the incompetence of the American crusaders and their faulty intelligence apparatus that has led to the murder of the two hostages,” Alshabaab said.

About a month after they were kidnapped, there were reports that the militants were demanding a USD1.5 million ransom for their release.

Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel has condoled with their families.
“Assel and Landy represent the noble and generous spirit of a people who share even what they do not have, with the humble of the earth. Cuba does not lose hope of finding them alive. We will do so as long as there is no official confirmation that they have died,” he said.

In 2020, there were reports that the two had been released by the terrorists who never confirmed nor refuted the claims.

It was only last week that they confirmed they had been holding them hostage.

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