KDF chopper on Aden Duale’s Turkana mission crashes in Tiaty

The Kenya Air Force, Fennec helicopter, hit a tree and crashed while taking off at Chemolingot Primary School in Tiaty West.

Photo credit: Courtesy

A military chopper that accompanied Defense Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale on a tour of Baringo and Turkana counties on Wednesday crashed at Chemolingot Primary School grounds in Tiaty West sub-county while taking off.

The helicopter was among three others that had carried senior military officers who had accompanied the Defense CS on a tour of Tiaty and Kapedo East constituencies to inspect the progress of schools being reconstructed by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) after being vandalized by bandits.

Senior military officers who accompanied the CS on the visit included Major General Jeff Nyagah, and Brigadier Ahmed Saman, among others.

The CS had already toured Chesitet Primary School in Tiaty East and Kapedo Mixed Secondary School in Turkana East and landed at Chemolingot Primary School for a brief break.

The helicopter- Kenya Air Force, Fennec crashed while taking off to the last institution, Kositei Primary School in Tiaty West, after hitting a tree, forcing the journey to end prematurely.

The wreckage at the scene indicated that its tail and propeller ripped apart.

KDF posted on its Facebook page indicating that the Fennec copter, while taking off en route to Nairobi hit a tree and crashed.

"This evening, a Kenya Air Force, Fennec helicopter, while taking off from Chemolingot stadium en route to Nairobi hit a tree and crashed. All passengers disembarked safely and are in stable condition," read the post.

Earlier, Mr Duale had said the government will not withdraw the military deployed in the banditry-prone North Rift region.

While touring Chester and Kositei primary schools and Kapedo mixed secondary schools to inspect the institutions being rebuilt by the military in the border area following vandalism by armed criminals, the CS indicated that the government was seeking to restore sanity in the banditry-porous villages.

More than Sh100 million has been set aside by the government for the reconstruction works being carried out by the military.

The government on February 13 declared Baringo, Turkana, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Samburu, and Laikipia counties as disturbed and dangerous zones and put them under a security operation following increased attacks by bandits. KDF was consequently deployed to supplement the multi-agency team carrying out the security operation in the region. Other agencies involved are National Police Reservists (NPR), Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU), Anti Stock Theft Unit (ASTU), and the General Service Unit (GSU).

On Wednesday, Mr Duale said successive governments have failed to tame the bandits in the North Rift but promised that the Kenya Kwanza administration will end the perennial problem and roll out development projects in the region.

“We cannot keep talking of banditry attacks for decades. That must end in this region, which has lagged in development for many years,” said the CS.

He revealed that some politicians have begged the government to withdraw the military deployed to the region.

“But we are here to stay. We want children from this region to learn uninterrupted like their counterparts countrywide. We also want women who have borne the brunt of attacks by bandits to sleep in their homes and engage in their daily activities without fear,” he stated.

He revealed that together with his Interior and Administration National Government CS Prof Kithure Kindiki, they have rolled out a national security strategy in the six banditry-affected counties and will present the same to the cabinet for budget allocation to open up roads, sink dams, drill and equip boreholes and other development projects.

“The archaic practice of inter-communal conflicts must stop and to that effect, the KDF camp at Chesitet will be here permanently. If you think that we are here for a short, then you should be brave for our stay here. The devolved units have allocated us some more land to set up more camps in these porous areas,” stated Mr Duale.

“KDF will set base in the six porous counties. We are even targeting to expand our camps. We will rebuild more than 20 schools in the areas and ensure all the school-going children in remote villages are enrolled to mitigate against their recruitment into banditry,” he stated.

Bandit activities have seriously negatively impacted education in the region, with armed bandits killing dozens of people, including learners and their teachers.

Some schools in banditry-prone areas in Baringo North, Baringo South, and Tiaty Sub-counties are yet to re-open since 2012 after locals fled the volatile villages.