Two Cuban doctors who were kidnapped by suspected Al-Shabaab militants from Mandera last week have been reportedly pictured alive in a forested town of Somalia, six days after their abduction, RTN Somalia TV has reported.
Kenyan government deployed multi-agencies in search for the two doctors who had initially expressed their optimism in working at the dangerous North Eastern region in an interview with a local TV station.
“Concerted efforts are being made for their search and rescue by a multi-agency security team. The National Security Advisory Committee has also briefed the Cabinet Secretary of Health, Interior and Defence, who remain seized of the matter,” said National Police Service spokesman Charles Owino in a statement.
As from Friday, the military deployed the fresh-trained commandos from the Long Range Surveillance (LRS) unit, to assist the police and other Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers drawn from the 1KR battalion in the search.
The men and women from the highly secretive LRS unit carry out difficult and secretive military missions, including gathering information behind enemy lines.
Military helicopters drawn from the Air Cavalry Battalion took over the search and rescue operations on air from the Kenya Police Airwing which flew the body of the slain officer to the Forces Memorial Hospital in Nairobi.
Already, elders drawn from Somali community of Kenya have reportedly crossed over the border to negotiate for the release of the doctors. KDF has been carrying out air surveillance in a bid to rescue the medics.
"Cuban Doctors Landy Rodriguez Hernandez and Dr Assel Herrera Correa reportedly sighted alive in the forested Halaanqo area near Barawe four days after their capture," RTN Somali TV reported in a tweet.
The TV station widely broadcasts in Nairobi and Mogadishu and is among the leading media station reporting in Somali language after the BBC Somali Service. The station did not however give further details.
While it's not clear which forces located them in the town which is found at porous Gedo region, KDF team has been leading surveillance to locate the two medics. Nairobi is yet to give the true position on the latest update but the news would be a major milestone in the ongoing rescue mission.
A driver attached to the two doctors was held for another 15 days following request by detectives. Sources indicate that he may have been in contact with assailants, who also killed a security officer attached to the team.