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Kenya’s military chief, nine officers die in helicopter mishap

Kenya’s military chief, General Francis Ogolla, was among the 10 individuals tragically killed in a military helicopter crash shortly after take-off on Thursday.

President William Ruto made the announcement during a news conference, where he said it was a “moment of great sadness” for the country.

The aircraft had been conducting a visit to troops deployed in northwest Kenya to address endemic cattle-rustling when it crashed just minutes after departing from Cheptulel Boys Secondary School in West Pokot County, according to Ruto.

President Ruto further stated that two soldiers survived the crash and were hospitalized, while an air investigation team was dispatched to determine the cause of the incident. In a news conference, Ruto expressed deep sorrow over the loss, describing General Ogolla as one of the nation’s bravest generals and emphasizing the significant sacrifice made in the line of duty.

About the late military chief, General Ogolla

General Ogolla had an illustrious military career, having previously served as the head of the Kenyan air force before being appointed as deputy military chief and subsequently promoted by Ruto to lead the military last year.

He joined the Kenya Defence Forces in 1984 and underwent training as a fighter pilot with the United States Air Force, later becoming an instructor pilot at the Kenya Air Force (KAF), as detailed in a profile by the Defence Ministry.

Despite previous allegations leveled against General Ogolla, including accusations of involvement in plots to overturn the outcome of the 2022 presidential election, Ruto affirmed his confidence in Ogolla’s qualifications for the top military position. The tragic crash adds to the ongoing challenges faced in northwest Kenya, where both civilians and law enforcement officers have fallen victim to unrest.

This is not the first helicopter crash involving Kenyan military personnel, as at least 10 soldiers lost their lives in a similar incident in June 2021 near the capital city, Nairobi. The loss of General Ogolla and the other individuals aboard the helicopter is a profound tragedy, highlighting the risks faced by military personnel in the execution of their duties, Kenya authorities say.

What you should know

The tragic incident in Kenya serves as a stark reminder of the unfortunate plane crash that claimed the life of Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff in 2021. According to reports, General Ibrahim Attahiru and seven other military chiefs were aboard the Military Beachcraft 350 aircraft when it crashed in Kaduna.

 

The Nigerian Air Force confirmed the accident, stating that one of its aircraft was involved in the incident in Kaduna, although specific details were not provided.

The crash in Kenya brings to mind previous aviation tragedies in Nigeria. On February 21, 2021, seven Nigerian Air Force officers lost their lives when a Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crashed in Abuja. This incident sent shockwaves across the country and highlighted the risks associated with military aviation operations.

Additionally, on March 31, 2021, another incident occurred when an Alpha-Jet aircraft engaged in anti-terror operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province lost radar contact in Borno State. The fate of the two officers onboard remains unknown as the aircraft was declared crashed.

 


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