Authorities in Nairobi have reportedly redeployed Somali elders from Mandera to renegotiate Sh150 million ransom allegedly demanded by Al-Shabaab militants for the release of two Cuban doctors.
The ransom demand was communicated through community elders who went to a remote place between the towns of Buale and El-Ade in Jubaland region of Somalia, where general practitioner Herera Corea and surgeon Landy Rodriguez are said to have been seen alive.
Dr Herera and Rodriguez were abducted by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Mandera after brief fire exchanges that saw a security officer dead and another one seriously injured in April.
KDF deployed Regiment Special Forces to Somalia as the search for abductors was intensified in the troubled Gedo region within Jubaland but the crackdown is yet to take place due to ongoing negotiations between Somali elders from Kenya and Somalia.
Elders said the two doctors are safe and are reportedly giving medical treatment to Somali community under restrictions by Al-Shabaab near El-Adde town. The elders, who are respected within Somali community, are believe to have been told by Kenyan government to have the ransom slashed.
In April, RTN Somali TV reported that the two doctors were pictured alive near Barawe, four days into their capture. The station however, did not give further details. The search and rescue mission has been kept secret by government.
"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.
Police spokesman Charles Owino said a multi-agency team was involved in the search and rescue mission. KDF barricaded the Kenya-Somalia border with movements restricted to pave way for crackdown.
“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.