(Bloomberg) -- Kenyan authorities withdrew 10 Cuban doctors from the northeastern region, where suspected al-Qaeda-linked gunmen abducted two medics last week and whisked them into neighboring Somalia.

The doctors were recalled from Wajir, Tana River, Garissa, Isiolo and Lamu counties, according to the Ministry of Health. The regions are either along or next to those at Kenya’s boundary with Somalia, where the al-Shabaab militants are based.

The Kenyan government hired 100 Cuban doctors last year to boost healthcare in the country’s underserved areas. The two abducted were based in Mandare county. Elders from the area followed the suspected militants into Somalia to negotiate release of the doctors, Nairobi-based Star newspaper reported Monday.

Formed in civil war-torn Somalia in about 2006, the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab group is fighting to enforce its version of Islamic law across the Horn of Africa country. While it was forced out of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in 2011 by an African Union force, it continues to stage attacks both at home and in Kenya.

--With assistance from Eric Ombok.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Herbling in Nairobi at dherbling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Malingha at dmalingha@bloomberg.net, Helen Nyambura

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