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Kenya’s military chief among 10 people killed in helicopter crash

Kenya’s military chief among 10 people killed in helicopter crash
epa10281393 Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers during a flag presentation ceremony by Kenya's President William Ruto before their deployment to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of the East Africa Community Regional Force (EARDC) at the Embakasi Garrison in Nairobi, Kenya, 02 November 2022. Deployment of Kenyan troops to the DRC follows a decision endorsed and adopted by regional leaders at the third East Africa Community Heads of State conclave on Peace and Security in eastern DRC, held in Nairobi in June 2022. The Conclave agreed to have the EARDC to quell a flare up of violence in the Eastern DRC. EPA-EFE/DANIEL IRUNGU

Kenya's military chief, General Francis Ogolla, was among 10 people killed when their military helicopter crashed shortly after take-off on Thursday, President William Ruto announced.

The aircraft, which had been on a visit to troops deployed in northwest Kenya to combat endemic cattle-rustling, came down just minutes after leaving Cheptulel Boys Secondary School in West Pokot County, Ruto said.

Two soldiers survived the crash and were in hospital, he said, adding that an air investigation team had been sent to discover the cause.

“Our motherland has lost one of her most valiant generals,” Ruto told a news conference. “The demise of General Ogolla is a painful loss to me… A distinguished four-star general has fallen in the course of duty, and service to country.”

Ogolla was previously the head of the Kenyan air force, before rising to deputy military chief and then being promoted by Ruto last year to head the military.

Ogolla joined the Kenya Defence Forces in 1984, where he trained as a fighter pilot with United States Air Force and as an instructor pilot at the Kenya Air Force (KAF), according to a Defence Ministry profile.

When promoting Ogolla to the top military job a year ago, Ruto accused him of being part of a plot to overturn the result of the 2022 presidential election, but said he was the best qualified person for the job.

Dozens of civilians and police officers have been killed in the unrest in the northwest.

At least 10 soldiers were killed in June 2021 when their helicopter crashed while landing near the capital, Nairobi.

(Reporting by Hereward Holland, Humphrey Malalo, Duncan Miriri and Aaron RossEditing by Andrew Heavens, Hugh Lawson and Frances Kerry)

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