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Nigeria: Army chief & 10 others killed in plane crash

Nigeria: Army chief & 10 others killed in plane crash

Air crash is said to have happened as the plane was landing at Kaduna airport ‘due to inclement weather’.

Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, Nigeria’s top-ranking army commander and other military officers have been killed when their plane crashed in northern Nigerian state of Kaduna, according to army officials.

There was no immediate information provided about what may have caused the plane crash, but Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima said more details would be released soon. The names of the other military officials who died were not made public.

Chief of Army Staff Attahiru had just been  appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in January as part of a shake-up of the top military command to better fight surging violence, including the more than decade-long battle against the Boko Haram armed group.

Buhari, a former general first elected in 2015, has been under increasing pressure from allies and critics alike over his government’s handling of mounting security problems in the country.

The US diplomatic mission to Nigeria said of Attahiru’s death on Twitter that it was “a tremendous loss to Nigeria” adding: “We join Nigerians in mourning the tragic loss of life from today’s plane crash.”

Nigeria’s military has been battling Boko Haram in the northeast since 2009, in a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 and displaced some two million.

This happens as there has been reports that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau had seriously wounded or possibly killed after clashes with a rival faction.

The army chief had once been in charge of leading the front-line offensive against Shekau’s fighters in the northeast in 2017.

Local intelligence sources said Shekau had been seriously wounded this week when the ISIL-linked Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacked his stronghold in the Sambisa forest in the northeastern state of Borno. The sources said Shekau was wounded when he shot himself to try to evade capture.

The Boko Haram leader has been reported killed several times since the conflict began, only to reappear later.

Nigeria’s army has said it was still investigating the reports and neither ISWAP nor Boko Haram had issued any statements about the Sambisa attack or Shekau’s whereabouts.

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