Kenyan Military Chief General Francis Ogolla Killed in Helicopter Crash

Kenya's military chief and 9 others killed in helicopter crash, raising concerns about aircraft maintenance. Controversial appointment, but general had distinguished career spanning 4 decades.

Israel Ojoko
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Kenyan Military Chief General Francis Ogolla Killed in Helicopter Crash

Kenyan Military Chief General Francis Ogolla Killed in Helicopter Crash

Kenya's military chief, General Francis Ogolla, and nine other top military personnel were killed in a helicopter crash in a remote area of the country on Thursday. The crash occurred shortly after takeoff from the village of Chesegon, where Ogolla and his entourage had been visiting a school.

President William Ruto announced three days of mourning and said the Kenya Air Force had dispatched an investigation team to determine the cause of the accident. Ogolla, a trained fighter pilot, had only been in the post for a year after being appointed as the Chief of the Defence Forces by Ruto in April 2023.

The helicopter was ferrying officials back from visiting troops rebuilding schools in an area plagued by bandits. Two officers, including the pilot, survived the crash and are hospitalized.

Why this matters: The crash marked the second time in three years that a helicopter crash killed 10 military officers in Kenya. It was also the fifth military chopper crash in the country in the past 12 months, raising concerns about the age and maintenance of the aircraft.

Ogolla's appointment as military chief had been controversial, as Ruto had previously accused him of being involved in an attempt to overturn the 2022 presidential election results. However, Ruto later said that despite the election controversy, Ogolla was the most qualified person for the job.

The 61-year-old general had a distinguished military career spanning four decades. He joined the Kenya Defense Forces in 1984 and rose through the ranks, receiving education from prestigious institutions. Ogolla is survived by his wife, two children, and a grandson.

In a statement, Ruto called Ogolla's death a "painful loss" and described him as a "valiant general" who dedicated his life to serving and protecting the country. Former President Uhuru Kenyatta also expressed his condolences, saying Ogolla was a "great friend of the United States" who had helped advance the U.S.-Kenya partnership.

Key Takeaways

  • Kenya's military chief, Gen. Francis Ogolla, killed in helicopter crash.
  • Crash killed 10 top military personnel, 2 officers survived.
  • Crash raises concerns about age and maintenance of military aircraft.
  • Ogolla's appointment as chief was controversial but he was most qualified.
  • Ruto and Kenyatta mourned Ogolla's death, calling him a "valiant general".