Head of Kenya's military General Francis Ogolla among nine killed in helicopter crash

Kenya's military chief was among nine people killed after a helicopter crashed shortly after taking off.

General Francis Ogolla, 61, was on a visit to troops stationed in the country's troubled western region when the aircraft caught fire and crashed shortly after taking off.

Announcing the deaths, Kenya's President William Ruto said: "Today our nation suffered a tragic air accident.

"I am deeply saddened to announce the passing on of General Francis Ogolla, the chief of the Kenya Defence Forces."

He continued to say: "Our motherland has lost one of her most valiant generals.

"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."

Eleven other military personnel were in the aircraft with Mr Ogolla, two of whom survived the crash.

The cause of the crash remains unknown, but an investigation into the incident has been launched.

Mr Ogolla was appointed as chief of the defence forces in April 2023 after the retirement of General Robert Kibochi.

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He was surrounded by political controversy even before his appointment, when he was accused by the country's electoral commission chairperson as being part of a national security council delegation that tried to influence the outcome of the 2022 general election against President Ruto.

Mr Ruto later explained that despite the allegations, Mr Ogolla was the most qualified for the job.

He had served in the military for 40 years.

Mr Ogolla is survived by his wife Aileen, two children and a grandson.