Nigerian army chief dies in aircraft crash

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Nigeria’s army chief, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, died in an aircraft crash on Friday on an official visit to the northern state Kaduna the presidency said.

The air force said in a statement the unidentified aircraft crashed near Kaduna airport and it is investigating.

The presidency said the general and other military officers died.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a presidency statement, described the crash as a “mortal blow … at a time our armed forces are poised to end security challenges facing the country.”

The crash comes three months after a Nigerian Air Force passenger aircraft went down outside Abuja airport following alleged engine failure, killing all seven people on board.  

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, has a poor air safety record, although it improved in recent years.

Buhari appointed Attahiru alongside other military chiefs in January after mounting criticism over spreading violence by Islamist insurgents and armed gangs.

Boko Haram and its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province, are waging a decade-long insurgency estimated to have displaced about twop million and killed more than 30  000. They want to create states based on their extreme interpretation of Islamic sharia law.