US Drone Strike in Somalia May Have Killed Two Cuban Doctors

Cuba says it's working to confirm the deaths after the allegations were made by al-Shabaab

Al-Shabaab has said a February 15 US drone strike in southern Somalia that targeted the group killed two Cuban doctors who were being held hostage, an allegation Cuba is trying to confirm.

US Africa Command did not announce the strike but released a statement after the allegations about the two Cubans surfaced, saying it was assessing the strike. “The command will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as available,” said AFRICOM spokeswoman Lennea Montandon.

The doctors, Dr. Landy Rodriguez Hernandez and Dr. Assel Herrera Correa, were kidnapped by al-Shabaab in Kenya back in 2019. Cuba’s Minister of Public Health José Ángel Portal Miranda said the Cuban government is in contact with their families and is looking to verify the claim.

The US frequently launches drone strikes against al-Shabaab in Somalia, but the war gets very little media coverage, and US operations are shrouded in secrecy. AFRICOM is also known for undercounting civilian casualties.

Earlier in the month, AFRICOM reported a drone strike that occurred on February 9 that it claims killed two al-Shabaab fighters. The command said the strike was launched in support of the US-backed Mogadishu-based government, which has been fighting a ground campaign against al-Shabaab.

The US is stepping up military aid for the Somali government and recently signed a deal to build five new military bases for the Danab Brigade, a special unit of the Somali army that’s armed and trained by the US. According to Task & Purpose, the project will cost over $100 million.

The US military hypes the threat of al-Shabaab due to its size and al-Qaeda affiliation, but it’s widely believed the group does not have ambitions outside of Somalia.

Al-Shabaab was born out of a US-backed Ethiopian invasion in 2006 that toppled the Islamic Courts Union, a coalition of Muslim groups who briefly held power in Mogadishu after ousting CIA-backed warlords.

Al-Shabaab was the radical offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union. The group’s first recorded attack was in 2007, and it wasn’t until 2012 that al-Shabaab pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda after years of fighting the US and its proxies.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.