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Police: Abducted Cubans had expressed fear for their safety

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They had complained of the distance between their house and the hospital and requested to be hosted within the facility

The two doctors abducted in a daring attack by gunmen in Mandera town yesterday 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.

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 yesterday confirmed that the gunmen suspected to be Al Shabaab had crossed the border into Somalia with the doctors.

Search-and-rescue mission

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 are 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.

READ ALSO:   Forget ransom for Cuban doctors, Kenyan government tells Al-Shabaab

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

Dr Assel Herrera Correa.

Received complaints

A senior security officer confirmed to Saturday Nation that they had received complaints from the two who had requested that they be moved within 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.

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 at the front killing him instantly.

READ ALSO:   No word on Cuban medics 120 days on

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.

“Everything happened at lightning speed. We pounced on one man who turned out to be a police officer,” a witness said.

Our security source said the morning incident appeared planned since no one at the busy bus stage attempted to block the two Probox vehicles. “There are so many taxis in the area but none attempt to block the two vehicles that sped away with the doctors,” he said.

Officers dispatched early to pursue the attackers returned and reported that they were not be able to tell which route was used by the abductors after crossing into Somalia. “We are told the road divides into three once you enter Somalia and our officers could not identify which the abductors had used,” the source said. The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) took over the rescue mission.

At the hospital, Dr Rodriguez was scheduled to operate on patients yesterday morning according to a duty roster at the facility. The two doctors lived in the same house guarded by police reservists and two police officers. Two house helps washed, cooked and cleaned.

They were yet to get their own cars and relied on hospital drivers and vehicles, which they had complained delayed their movement. In an earlier interview with this writer, Dr Correa confirmed they usually had armed police with them.

Dr Assel Herrera Correa.

Condemned the incident

READ ALSO:   Cuban doctors leave 3 counties in a huff

“We have security personnel around us all the time but despite that Mandera is safer than many other places I have worked including Brazil’s Amazonas area,” he said. When on duty, he used to attend to about 20 patients a day. He said locals were friendly and he was adapting to the culture.

Dr Mohamed Adan, the hospital’s Medical Superintendent had said the facility has recorded an upsurge in numbers of patients. Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union secretary-general Ouma Oluga on Friday condemned the incident.

“This incident is a reminder to all that medical workers should never be a target even during conflicts given the humanitarian nature of the services they offer,” he said in a statement. Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said they would ensure health services are not interrupted.

“As a council we are here to support you and should there be any gap, we are ready to stand in,” Mr Oparanya said in a statement. The abducted doctors are among 110 specialists sent from Cuba in June 2018 to improve the quality of medical services in rural areas.

source:Daily Nation

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‘We sold our land to buy oxygen for sick mother’

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She coughs uncontrollably in her mud-walled house in Uasin Gishu as she positions a nasal cannula. Beside her, are three oxygen cylinders – one is a 75-kilogramme cylinder and the two smaller ones.

Meet Rose Chemwetich, 55, who has been dependent on oxygen cylinders since 2017, after she developed an agonising disease that made it difficult for her to breathe. Her lungs had failed.

It all started with a simple cough in 2016. What Rose thought was a common cold turned out to be something bigger.The widow says she visited a local dispensary and was treated for the ‘minor’ ailment but the coughing persisted.

Four years later, she cannot survive without the oxygen cylinder even for two minutes, her failing lungs cannot sustain regular breathing.But the biggest worry for the mother of four is that her family is now unable to refill the oxygen cylinder.

Every week, the woman from Moiben Constituency refills the apparatus at Sh4,500.“When health workers at the dispensary discovered the coughing was not ceasing, they referred me to Uasin Gishu District Hospital for further tests. Doctors there suspected tuberculosis, but tests turned out negative,” Rose says.

Condition worsened

When the urge to visit the toilet comes, she wobbly walks to the little room but has to be as quick as possible because she has to return to her oxygen cylinders, which are carefully positioned.

READ ALSO:   Revealed: How governors channel public funds to secret CoG account

Rose says her condition worsened in 2017 and was admitted to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH), where medics recommended oxygen cylinders at home after her lungs failed to support breathing.A short while later, she was also diagnosed with diabetes. This made the situation worse.

“Neighbours have been generously contributing towards my oxygen, but they are now tired. I have sold more than half of the land I am currently residing in to remain alive,” she says.

Unable to live an ordinary life, Rose only gets out every two weeks, when she has to visit the MTRH for treatment and assessment, or when she runs out of oxygen.

“Relatives rush me to hospital whenever the oxygen runs out. At the hospital, I am put under oxygen as I refill the cylinders. One of my relatives has turned into a nurse, and sits next to me all the time,” she says

.She adds: “I feel a lot of pain in the chest when I cough. My breasts are also swollen. Doctors say there is poor flow of blood between my heart and lungs.” A report by a doctor Owino at MTRH indicates that Rose suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Experts describe COPD as an obstructive lung disease characterised by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. According to the report, the condition can only be cured through a lung transplant, a procedure that is unavailable in Kenya.

READ ALSO:   Cuban doctors leave 3 counties in a huff

Devastated family

“She was stabilised on oxygen. She responded well and was discharged to continue with the usual oxygen and insulin,” her discharge sheet dated February 17, 2020 reads in part. Rose’s daughter, Joan Chepchirchir says her mother’s condition has devastated the family. “We have been forced to sell our only farm to buy oxygen for our mother and have to depend on our uncles,” she says.

Joan says she secured a job at a hotel in Eldoret in 2017 but turned it down because she had to take care of her ailing mother.She says her family has been organising fundraising events to get get funds to purchase oxygen, but they have stopped asking for help.Rose’s nephew, Ishmael Kipsang says the family has used more than Sh4 million on oxygen alone.

Ishmael says that in recent months, the family has been struggling to pay for the gas.

“We owe the oxygen provider more than Sh100,000 in unpaid refills and they are threatening to deny us the gas,” says Ishmael as he calls on the State to help them in getting better treatment for his aunt.Jane Naliaka, a neighbour says Rose’s family is subdued by the draining health condition, and now feels helpless.

By standard

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Meet Cherono guard by day and student in the evening

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As you enter Egerton University Nakuru Town Campus on Government Road, the institution is a beehive of activities.

The security at the entrance is tight as a female security guard keep a close watch on every movement around and past the metal gate.

And as students and other clients pass her at the entrance, they have no idea that the woman who inspects their luggage and frisk them before allowing them to go through a metal detector is student at the same institution. Not even some lecturers notice her.

Some of the students even reprimand her for the slow pace at which she clears them, perhaps because of fatigue as she rarely gets good rest.

“Sometimes when I look at some of these students who scorn at me, I pray to God to give me strength to study hard and join them at graduation square one day. Sometimes it is good to respect people you meet because whatever one is doing is not permanent. This world is a global village and you don’t know the next meeting point,” she said.

She added: “Unfortunately many Kenyans see security guards as failures in life and school dropouts who don’t deserve respect.”

Meet Ms Naomi Cherono, 27, who is the darling of the students and lecturers as she ensures their security is guaranteed through superb checking at the entrance.

Interestingly, students and other visitors who have interacted with Ms Cherono leave the institution impressed.

However, many would probably never know that the guard who takes care of their security is struggling to complete her studies at the same institution.

READ ALSO:   Forget ransom for Cuban doctors, Kenyan government tells Al-Shabaab

“She is the safe pair of hands to help the students and workers at the institution enjoy their work and study. I love the way she is strict. I was happy with the way she handled my colleagues who did not carry identification documents,” said George, a student.

“With terror threats at public institutions, Cherono makes sure only students and staff with proper identification documents enter the institution when she is on duty. She is a no nonsense guard who loves her job,” said Mary a second year student.

“She is a cool guard and when she talks about security, I listen very attentively. She gave me some advice on personal safety including tips on how to detect suspected criminals in a crowded gathering,” Victor, another student.

Ms Cherono, who is a Library and Information Science student, hopes to graduate this year. But she may not graduate as she owes the university a fee arrears of Sh268,000.

“I have decided to work as a guard in the day and in the evening I attend my classes but my joy walking home smiling with my certificate is fast fading as I have not cleared my arrears,” she says.

“Juggling between class and work to raise an extra coin for my school fees,” she told Nation. Ms Cherono’s journey is inspiring.

 In 2012 she sat her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) and scored a D and since she wanted to join university her poor grades let her down. She enrolled for a certificate course and passed her exams.

READ ALSO:   Revealed: How governors channel public funds to secret CoG account

“I passed and I decided to advance by studying a diploma course which I passed,” she recalls.

Ms Cherono wants to prove that getting a D in KCSE is not the end of the road.

“Getting a D was a blessing in disguise as I have been able to realise my potential and as I study hard. I want to be a role model to other girls who seem to despair after getting the grade,” says Ms Cherono adding that poverty is the state of the mind. She says her dream is to pursue Library Studies to PhD level.

“My next stop is a PhD class and nothing will stop me from one day earning the title Dr Cherono,” she says as she frisks a client.

But the journey has not been easy as raising the school fees was an uphill task.

“I come from a poor background. I am the first born in a family of 10 (eight girls and two boys) and my father is a tractor driver in Mauche while my mother is housewife and they have a burden of taking care of the rest of my siblings,” she says.

She added: “It is not easy to raise such a big family. At one stage my dad told me to quit college as he had no money to pay for my fees.”

However, that did not dampen her fighting spirit and she was forced to carry the books to read and complete assignments while working as a guard.

READ ALSO:   Cuban doctors leave 3 counties in a huff

“When you’re a security guard cum student, there is no time to relax. Every second counts. I wake up at 4am to study and complete my assignments and by 7am, I am I report to my place of work and the university,” she said. “Working as a guard has denied me the privileges of social life,” she said.

Despite the challenges, Ms Cherono has passed all her examinations and practical tests and is optimistic of a bright future.

“I owe the university Sh268,000 and unless I raise this money my dreams of graduating as a librarian may  not be realised,” she said.

“I have to clear the arrears as I don’t believe to be a failure in life. What I earn as a security guard caters for food, and pays my rent and other costs,” she said.

Egerton University Vice-Chancellor Prof Rose Mwonya commended Ms Cherono for overcoming odds to pursue her dreams.

“Her sacrifice is commendable. I started from diploma and today I am the vice-chancellor of Egerton University. I encourage her to work hard,” said Prof Mwonya.

Nakuru City Board Director Kamau Kuria commended Ms Cherono’s resilience.

“Unlike other girls who score a D grade and think there is no future, Ms Cherono has a bright future and her hard work is now paying off. She is a role model to her peers,” said Mr Kuria.

A lecturer at Egerton Town campus William Kipchumba described Ms Cherono as a hardworking student.

Egerton University Town Campus Security Supervisor Paul Rotich described her as a courageous and disciplined student.

By Nation.co.ke

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Missed a strange call? Don’t respond

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If you woke up to several unattended calls from an unknown number, what would you do? Call back? Text? Ignore? Contact your service provider?

The fashion in which the calls come in – one-ring then drop, and with the several missed calls – creates an air of urgency about it which you have to wonder how the caller got your contact.

The urge to call back a missed call becomes irresistible. Especially when they are numerous missed calls from a strange international caller. However, to some, it makes more sense to call their service provider.

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, when most people’s minds were tuned to the rhythm of love, random international callers with +243 prefixes contacted several Kenyan Safaricom subscribers, taking psychological advantage of the moment of affection.

Alan Mwenda, one of those contacted, reached out to Safaricom – the service provider, but he was advised to “share such numbers on SMS to 333 (free) for investigation and look up the “One Ring Scam.”  However, the telco is yet to share their stance.

But, what really was happening? How potential is this type of cyber security threat? Who exactly are these callers?

One ring and drop nature of the calls has been dubbed ‘Wangiri’ by America’s Federal Communications Commission report that derived it from the calls’ characteristic nature of calling and hanging up immediately, leaving a missed call notification from an international caller.

READ ALSO:   No word on Cuban medics 120 days on

Mr Fred Wahome, vice chair of Kenya Cybersecurity and Forensic Association and an information security expert explains: “The calls are computer generated. It takes one to have an algorithm that can generate random numbers with their target telco’s prefix, say, between 070 and 079 as the instance with Safaricom, then the computer makes random calls to the unsuspecting subscribers.”

He adds, “The goal is not always to make you answer the call. It is persuading you to call back.”

Calling the fraudster would activate the exorbitant charges which then generates cash to the fraudsters. The best way to deal with such, according to him, is to ignore the allure of returning the call.

Service providers, he says, are mostly not able to track down these numbers as call data records may not have recorded them, because the computer generated algorithms make massive calls simultaneously to their subscribers.

When the victim calls back, then that would be considered as cyber fraud.

Dr Bright Mawudor, a cybersecurity expert at Internet Solutions Kenya says that the number, if at all not an algorithm, could be calling from anywhere in the world and not necessarily from Kinshasa.”

The ‘international caller’, he explains, could have purported to be calling from Kinshasa. “It could even have come from right here in Kenya. They usually change the phone dialing proxies to fool target user accounts, and make their attack plans easier to execute,” he expounds.

READ ALSO:   Cuban doctors leave 3 counties in a huff

Vodafone, a global mobile communications provider, operating in 26 countries advises subscribers not to return international calls that they don’t recognise.

When befell by the same fate, the report also prescribes various means to ensure that would be employed to minimalise chances of the getting scammed.

Users must check out for the identity of the caller before receiving any call, even international, dismiss the temptation to answer or call back missed calls from unusual international numbers.

“You should ask your service provider to block incoming international calls on your line after any suspected attempt to breach your phone security.”

In 2017, Kenya’s digital economy lost Sh21.1 billion to cybercrime, which increased by 39.8 per cent in 2018 to Sh29.5 billion according to pan-African based cyber-security and business consultancy Serianu.

Heavy finances have been invested in cyber security infrastructure, but the menace keeps chopping off millions of shillings from companies’ profits, and stealing sensitive data from targeted senior employees.

By Nation.co.ke

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