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The Kenyan president said that army chief Francis Ogola died in a helicopter crash

The Kenyan president said that army chief Francis Ogola died in a helicopter crash

Louis Tatou/AFP/Getty Images

Kenya Defense Forces Commander General Francis Ogola looks on as he inspects the guard of honor during his official visit to the State House in Nairobi, on February 28, 2024.


Kenyan army chief Francis Ogola died in a helicopter crash in the western part of the country on Thursday, President William Ruto announced in a televised address.

Ruto said the helicopter crashed shortly after take-off on Thursday afternoon local time, killing Ojola and nine other military personnel. He added that two people survived the accident.

“I am deeply saddened to announce the death of General Francis Omondi Ojola, Commander of the Kenya Defense Forces,” he said.

Ruto said a team of investigators had been sent to the accident site in Elgeyo Marakwet County to determine the cause of the accident.

The president said Ojola left Nairobi on Thursday to visit troops in the country's North Rift region and inspect ongoing renovations at schools.

Following the incident, Ruto held an urgent meeting of the country's National Security Council in Nairobi, according to presidential spokesman Hussein Mohammed.

“For me, as Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defense Forces, it is a tragic moment for the Kenya Defense Forces and a very unfortunate day for the nation as a whole,” Ruto said.

“Our nation has lost one of its most courageous generals. We have also lost brave officers, soldiers and women,” he added.

Ruto said Kenya will declare mourning for three days starting Friday.

According to the state broadcaster Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), Ojola is the first Kenyan military commander to die while on active duty. The general joined the Kenya Defense Forces in 1984 and became a second lieutenant in 1985 before being posted to the Kenya Air Force, according to the Ministry of Defense website.

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This is a breaking news story and will be updated.