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Nigerian army chief killed in air crash

ABUJA, Nigeria: Nigeria’s army chief, Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, has been killed in a plane crash in the north-western state of Kaduna, officials say.

The incident happened as the plane was trying to land in bad weather, the military said. Ten other officers, including the plane’s crew, also died.

President Muhammadu Buhari said he was “deeply saddened” by the crash.

Gen Attahiru, 54, only took up his post in January in an overhaul of the military’s top brass.

It was part of the government’s plan to boost the military’s efficiency in fighting a more than decade-long jihadist insurgency.

The Nigerian Air Force said the incident happened as the plane was landing at Kaduna International Airport.

On Twitter, the president said the crash was a “mortal blow… at a time our armed forces are poised to end the security challenges facing the country”.

Friday’s crash comes three months to the day after a Nigerian military plane crashed short of a runway in the capital Abuja, killing all seven people on board.

The crash occurred three months after a small Nigerian air force passenger plane went down just outside the Abuja airport following what was said to be an engine failure, killing all seven people on board.

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

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

Boko Haram and its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province, have waged a decade-long insurgency estimated to have displaced about 2 million people and killed more than 30,000. They want to create states based on their extreme interpretation of Islamic sharia law.