The US investigates whether an airstrike killed two Cuban doctors in Somalia

The US investigates whether an airstrike killed two Cuban doctors in Somalia

HAVANA, February 20. The United States is evaluating whether a US airstrike against Al Shabab last week killed two held Cuban doctors by that jihadist group in Somalia, as the terrorist organization claims.A spokeswoman for the US Military Command in Africa (AFRICOM) has confirmed to EFE that “an air attack was carried out against the Al Shabab network on February 15 near (the town of) Jilib, Somalia”, where the doctors supposedly died.

“We are aware of reports of an attack that allegedly killed two civilians,” the source admitted, stressing that AFRICOM “will continue to evaluate the results of this operation and will provide additional information when it becomes available.”

“We have no further information at this time about these reports, but we take all claims of civilian casualties seriously,” the spokeswoman added.

Captured in 2019 in Kenya

Al Shabab assured this Saturday that two Cuban doctors kidnapped by that organization in 2019 died last Thursday in an air attack by the United States Army in Somalia, although this has not yet been officially confirmed by the authorities of the African country.

“The aerial bombardment, which began at around 00:10 local time (21:10 GMT), targeted a house in Jilib and instantly killed Assel Herrera and Landy Rodríguez, captured on April 12, 2019” in northern Kenya, the jihadist group said in a statement.

Al Shabab noted that “American crusaders carried out multiple drone attacks on the city of Jilib (…) killing the two Cuban prisoners.”

The statement also included the alleged photograph of one of the supposedly deceased Cuban doctors.

One and a half million dollars for his release

Surgeon Landy Rodríguez Hernández and general medicine specialist Assel Herrera Correa were kidnapped on April 12, 2019 in the Kenyan city of Mandera (northeast), bordering Somalia and a target of jihadist attacks in the past.

That day, the two doctors were traveling, as was their custom, in a convoy to the Mandera hospital protected by armed escorts, when they were intercepted after a shootout in which one of the police officers who was ensuring their safety died.

In May 2019, traditional leaders from Kenya and Somalia who traveled to the Somali region of Jubaland, controlled by Al Shabab, to negotiate on behalf of the doctors, confessed to having seen the doctors providing medical care to the local population.

According to the mediators, the kidnappers even demanded 1.5 million dollars as a condition for their release, the Kenyan press reported at the time.

Herrera and Rodríguez were part of a contingent of a hundred Cuban professionals who arrived in Kenya in 2018 in the application of a bilateral agreement to improve access to specialized health services in the African country.