Samia mourns fallen Kenya’s CDF Gen Ogolla

By Guardian Reporter , The Guardian
Published at 07:00 AM Apr 20 2024
 Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), General Francis Ogolla
Photo: File
Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), General Francis Ogolla

PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has joined leaders across Africa to mourn Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), General Francis Ogolla and nine army officers who lost their lives in a helicopter crash on Thursday.

On her X page post Thursday evening, President Samia expressed her grief deep sadness, paying tribute to the late General Ogolla. 

“I have received with great sorrow the news of the death of the Chief of Defence Forces of the Republic of Kenya, General Francis Omondi Ogolla, and nine other soldiers in a helicopter accident that occurred today (Thursday) in Elgeyo-Marakwet County,” she said. 

She offered her heartfelt condolences to President William Ruto, the Kenyan nation, and the bereaved families of all those who died in the tragic accident. 

“I send my condolences to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces of Kenya, His Excellency William Ruto, all the citizens of Kenya, and the families, relatives and friends of all those who have lost their loved ones in this accident. My deepest sympathies,” she added. 

Kenya began three days of mourning on yesterday after its defence chief and nine other senior military officers were killed in a helicopter crash, the latest accident to blight the nation's military.

General Ogolla was killed when his helicopter went down shortly after takeoff in a remote area of north western Kenya.

“A distinguished four-star general has fallen in the course of duty and service of the country,” President William Ruto said as he announced the deaths that evening.

He said the nation would observe three days of mourning from Friday, with the national flag flying at half-mast across the country and at Kenyan missions abroad.

“Final salute” was the front-page headline in the leading Daily Nation newspaper.

The bodies of the victims, draped in Kenyan flags, were returned to a military base in Nairobi on an air force plane late Thursday.

Ogolla, who was born in 1962, had been appointed to the post by Ruto just a year ago and was about to mark 40 years of military service.

His daughter Lorna Ogolla said in a poignant post on Linkedin that her father died “doing what he did best for the better part of the last 40 years -- trying to keep Kenya safe”.

Messages of condolence were sent from across the region and foreign diplomatic missions in Kenya.

Ogolla had been visiting troops deployed in Operation Maliza Uhalifu (Operation End Crime in Kiswahili) in the North Rift region, where insecurity caused by armed bandits and cattle rustlers is rife.

Ruto said the Air Force had dispatched an investigation team to establish the cause of the crash that involved a Huey helicopter.

Kenyan media reports said it was the fifth armed forces chopper crash in 12 months, with claims that the country’s military aircraft were old and poorly maintained.

In June 2021, at least 10 soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed during a training exercise south of Nairobi.