Nigerian Army Chief of General Staff dies in plane crash

The head of the Nigerian army and 11 others died in a plane crash Friday afternoon, May 21, near the airport in Nigeria’s northern Kaduna province. The country’s president says this comes at a critical time to end security challenges.

Authorities in Abuja say Nigeria’s chief of army staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, died in a military plane crash late Friday afternoon near the airport in Kaduna province in northern Nigeria, along with 10 other officers. The situation in the province has posed a security challenge to Nigeria in recent months.

The plane crashed near Kaduna airport and the air force is currently investigating the cause, according to a statement from the Nigerian Air Force cited by AFP.

President Muhammadu Buhari issued a statement saying, “Our armed forces are preparing to end the security challenges facing the country and to have a plane crash at this critical time…is a major blow.”

After years of heavy criticism due to the expansion of violence by Islamist insurgent groups and armed gangs, President Buhari announced a reshuffle of top military personnel in January this year, assigning Lt. Gen. Attahiru as chief of staff of the army.

Three months ago, a small plane of the Nigerian Air Force allegedly had engine failure and crashed near the capital Abuja (Abuja), killing all seven people on board.