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Kenya’s military chief dies in a helicopter crash, Nairobi declares three days of national mourning

Kenya's military chief General Francis Ogolla, right, and Kenya's President William Ruto, left, at State House in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 14, 2023   -  
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Brian Inganga/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


Kenya’s military chief Gen. Francis Ogolla died in a helicopter crash west of the country, President William Ruto announced Thursday and declared three days of national mourning.

The helicopter was carrying 11 people, including Gen. Ogolla, when it crashed Thursday and caught fire in a remote area near the border with Uganda, killing nine people onboard, the president said.

It is unclear what caused the crash.

Gen. Ogolla, 61, was on a tour of the country’s troubled western region that has seen frequent attacks by local bandits.

He was appointed Kenya’s Chief of Defense Forces in April last year after Gen. Robert Kibochi retired.

Political controversy surrounded Ogolla 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.

Ruto later explained that he called Gen. Ogolla before his appointment and said that, despite the election controversy, he was the most qualified for the job.

Gen Ogolla joined Kenya’s military force 40 years ago.

He was a graduate of École Militaire de Paris, the National Defence College of Kenya, Egerton University and the University of Nairobi.

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

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