Kenyan Defence Chief, 9 Other Senior Officers Perish In Helicopter Crash

The military chief of Kenya and nine other top brass were killed on Thursday when their military helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff in a remote area of the country, President William Ruto said.

“Today at 2:20 p.m., our nation suffered a tragic air accident … I am deeply saddened to announce the passing of Gen. Francis Omondi Ogolla,” Ruto told reporters.

The president, who had convened an urgent meeting of the National Security Council after news of the accident emerged, said nine other “gallant military personnel” on board were also killed while two survived.

He said the Kenya Air Force had dispatched an air investigation team to establish the cause of the crash, which took place in Elgeyo Marakwet county, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) northwest of the capital, Nairobi.

The helicopter crashed  hortly after takeoff from Chesegon, where he and his entourage had been visiting a school, Ruto said.

“A distinguished four-star general has fallen in the course of duty and in the service of the country,” he said.

“Our motherland has lost one of her most valiant generals, gallant officers, service men, and women.”

Ruto announced three days of mourning from Friday, with official flags flying at half-mast.

He said Ogolla, 61, had left Nairobi on Thursday morning on an air force Huey helicopter to visit troops deployed in the North Rift area in Operation Maliza Uhalifu (Operation End Crime in Swalihi), and other sites.

Kenyan authorities have long battled insecurity in the Rift Valley region, with armed bandits and cattle rustlers rampant.

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

Culled from Leadership