Kenyan defence chief, nine others die in military helicopter crash

A Kenyan military helicopter carrying top brass including the  defence chief crashed on Thursday, police said.

President William Ruto convened an urgent meeting of the National Security Council, his office announced after news of the crash emerged.

Defence forces chief General Francis Omondi Ogolla was among those on board the helicopter that went down in Elgeyo Marakwet county, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi, a senior police officer told AFP.

“The helicopter burst into flames after crashing and it had more than 10 senior commanders on board including General Ogolla,” the officer said.

“They were in the area on a security mission because there are KDF (Kenya Defence Forces) soldiers deployed in the region,” he said.

TEarlier, there was no report of official comment on casualties.

“President William Ruto has convened an urgent meeting of the National Security Council at State House Nairobi this evening following a Kenya Defence Forces’ helicopter crash this afternoon in Elgeyo-Marakwet County,” State House spokesman Hussein Mohamed said in a statement.

Ogolla, 61, was appointed Chief of the Defence Forces by Ruto in April last year after a stint as deputy.

Ruto told journalists last May that he appointed Ogolla despite him being among those who tried to overturn his narrow election win against opposition leader Raila Odinga in 2022.

“When I looked at his CV, he was the best person to be (a) general,” Ruto said, adding his decision went against the wishes of many people.

A trained fighter pilot, Ogolla joined the KDF in April 1984, rising through the ranks to command the Kenyan Air Force in 2018, a post he held for three years.

However, in a latest report, President Ruto said Ogolla and nine other senior military officers died in a helicopter crash on Thursday.

He added that only two survived the air accident.

“Today at 2:20 pm, our nation suffered a tragic air accident… I am deeply saddened to announce the passing on of General Francis Omondi Ogolla,” Ruto said.

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