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Kenya’s Defence Chief, nine senior officers die in helicopter crash

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Kenya’s Defence Forces Chief, Gen Francis Omondi Ogolla, and nine other senior military officers were killed in a helicopter crash on Thursday.

The Kenyan police said there were 12 people in the highest military positions on board but only two survived the air crash.

Kenyan President William Ruto convened an urgent meeting of the National Security Council in his office and made the announcement of the tragic news.

The helicopter went down in Elgeyo Marakwet county, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi, according to AFP.

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

“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.

In the latest report, President Ruto said Ogolla and nine other senior military officers died in a helicopter crash, adding 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.

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.

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