- The Department of Defence headquarters said Tuesday the Kenya Air Force Huey Helicopter crashed Monday night while on night patrol in Lamu County.
- The statement did not mention the number of the dead but other officials confirmed it to be eight.
Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale on Tuesday sent his condolences to the families of the affected military personnel in a helicopter crash in Lamu.
“Our hearts and prayers stretch out to the families and friends in the Lamu helicopter crash. This unfortunate fatality has caused unprecedented losses over the gains made in the ongoing military operation.”
“To the fallen heroes, today our national flag flies with the last breath of each of you. Soldier on, Patriots!,” he said.
All those on board the Kenya Air Force Huey Helicopter died in the crash.
President William Ruto also mourned the death of eight military personnel.
Ruto sent his condolences to the families and friends on the “heartbreaking loss of our heroes in the Lamu helicopter crash”.
“We honour their bravery in defending and protecting Kenya’s sovereignty. Our prayers are with the Kenya Defence Forces and all those that have been affected by the tragedy,” he said in a message.
This follows Monday night’s incident in which the personnel who were en route from Somalia to Kenya crashed in a forest in Lamu.
The cause of the crash is yet to be established. Witnesses said it went up in flames on the crash.
The Department of Defence headquarters said Tuesday the Kenya Air Force Huey Helicopter crashed Monday night while on night patrol in Lamu County.
The statement did not mention the number of the dead but other officials confirmed it to be eight.
“The crew and other military personnel onboard were part of an air surveillance squadron intensifying day and night patrols and surveillance for the ongoing Operation Amani Boni,” DOD said in a statement.
“The leadership and entire KDF fraternity condole with the families of the crew. A Board of Inquiry has been constituted and dispatched to the scene to establish the cause of the crash.”
The investigation team arrived at the scene Tuesday afternoon to commence a probe. Other sources said the chopper was flying from Somalia when it crashed in Boni Forest.
Kenyan troops are in Somalia under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) to help in fighting the al Shabaab terror group. KDF went to Somalia in October 2011.
There are plans to withdraw the troops from the area and let Somalia take over.
The terror group has increased attacks in Kenya in a renewed trend that has left dozens of people dead in the past months alone near the Kenya-Somalia border. Somalia has not had a stable government after the fall of Siad Barre in 1991.
Within Lamu, KDF is part of multi-agency teams that are involved in major operations in areas near the Kenya-Somalia border amid sporadic attacks. The attacks have left dozens of people dead including security agents. Others are nursing wounds.
The affected chopper is among those that had been acquired from the US in 2016.
KDF-Kenya Air Force took delivery of six Bell UH-1H Huey II helicopters from the United States.
Officials said then the helicopters were to be used to assist with counter-terrorism operations in the region and assist troops who are part of the African Union mission.
The Bell Huey II is an upgraded version of the popular Bell UH-1H medium-lift helicopter.
The upgrade kit uses refurbished zero-timed airframes together with upgraded engines, drive trains, avionics, and rotors.
The upgrades provide significant advancements over the standard UH-1H platform including improved hovering capabilities and longer TBO intervals for time-sensitive components.
The helicopter can be configured for a variety of missions including disaster response, firefighting, military support, cargo, special ops and search.