In Summary
  • The two medics were ambushed at Banisa stage while driving to Mandera Level Four Hospital in a county-owned double-cabin pickup accompanied by two body guards.
  • Following the attack, a crisis security meeting was held in the border town.
  • The driver of the county government vehicle ferrying the health workers was arrested and was on Friday evening being questioned

The two doctors abducted in a daring attack by gunmen in Mandera town on Friday had expressed concerns over their safety, the Saturday Nation can reveal.

Of huge concern to Dr Assel Herera Correa, a general physician, and Dr Landy Rodriguez, a surgeon, was the five-kilometre distance they had to cover daily from their house at Busley to their work station at the Mandera Level Four Hospital. They lived in a house owned by a county government official.

AMBUSHED

The two medics were ambushed at Banisa stage while driving to the hospital in a county-owned double-cabin pickup accompanied by two body guards, one of them who died in the attack, and the driver who was arrested and questioned.

Police Spokesman Charles Owino on Friday confirmed that the gunmen suspected to be Al Shabaab had crossed the border into Somalia with the doctors.

While the fate of the medics is unknown, a contingent of Kenya Defence Forces, various units of Kenya Police and Kenya Police Reservists had been dispatched to chase after the two vehicles used in the raid and abduction.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma confirmed security agencies were engaged in the search-and-rescue mission to ensure the doctors’ safe return. “Today we have been reminded, again, of the evil machinations of international criminal networks. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in contact with the Government of Cuba,” she said.

SECURITY MEETING

Following the attack, a crisis security meeting was held in the border town. In attendance were North Eastern Regional Commissioner Mohamed Birik and Mandera East deputy County Commissioner Lawrence Omondi.

A senior security officer confirmed to the Saturday Nation that they had received complaints from the two who had requested that they be moved to the precincts of the hospital but their request had not been acted on.

“We also raised their concerns to our seniors and requested that they be moved to reside within the hospital but no action was taken,” the officer confided.

The officer added it was difficult for the abductors to strike at night since the town is manned by different security units in different areas and the high number of officers at the doctors’ home: “The attackers seemed to have taken notice of this and changed tack.” According to eye witnesses, the usually busy terminus was thrown into confusion some minutes past 9am when loud gunshots were heard, forcing locals to scamper for safety.

ASSAILANTS

The armed assailants, who had arrived in two Probox vehicles, blocked the doctor’s pickup truck, alighted and opened fire at the Administration Police officer seated in the front seat, killing him instantly.

Witnesses said the other officer managed to escape in the attack as the gunmen quickly bundled the two health workers in one of the cars and sped off towards the Somalia border.

The driver of the county government vehicle ferrying the health workers was arrested and was on Friday evening being questioned.

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