Top Kenya security minister killed in crash, Shebab rejoices

Kenya's internal security minister George Saitoti, a key figure in his country's fight against Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents in neighbouring Somalia, was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday.

His death was hailed by his foes in the Shebab but they stopped short of making a claim of responsibility for the crash, whose cause has not yet been determined.

"(Shebab) welcomes the death of the evil minister upon whose authorisation thousands of Muslims suffered both in Somalia and in Kenya," the group said a message on its Twitter account.

Saitoti, 66, and five other people were killed when a police helicopter went down in the Ngong hills outside the capital shortly after take-off from Nairobi's Wilson airport.

The other victims were Joshua Orwa Ojode, the assistant minister for internal security, the two pilots -- including a woman -- and two bodyguards.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga paid tribute to Saitoti, who played a prominent role in the campaign against Somali insurgents, blamed for a series of terror attacks and kidnappings on Kenyan soil.

"The government will ensure a thorough probe" into the cause of the crash, Odinga told journalists at the crash site.

Saitoti, who was planning to run for president next year to succeed Kibaki, was on his way to attend a religious ceremony in western Kenya when the Eurocopter came down in the Kibuku forest around 8:30 am (0530 GMT).

An AFP journalist saw six bodies charred beyond recognition being removed from the wreckage, while wads of bank notes lay scattered at the scene.

Investigators from the police, the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority sealed off the area to try to establish the cause of the accident.

"Most probably it was caused by bad weather, it was foggy at the time it went down," a police officer involved in the investigation told AFP.

Another police source said Kenya had acquired the aircraft, which was fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, just five months ago.

One witness, farmer Ole Tolei, told AFP he had seen the aircraft "flying very low. It came down suddenly and we heard a loud explosion, and then it burst into flames."

Saitoti's ministerial role meant he controlled the state's top investigative arms, the National Security Intelligence Service and the Criminal Investigation Department.

Kenya sent thousands of troops into southern Somalia in October to fight the Shebab and protect its border. It was Saitoti who made the first public announcement of the invasion, a full two days after Kenyan troops crossed the border.

The Kenyan force has since been joined by Ethiopia in a bid to rout the Islamist group from their strongholds in the south and centre of the country.

Since Kenyan troops entered Somalia, several people have been killed in a series of attacks in border areas, and a bomb blast in a Nairobi shopping centre last month wounded 38 people.

Saitoti declared recently that the government would not be cowed by "terrorists".

But the Shebab warned Sunday that it would exact revenge for the actions of foreign forces in Somalia.

"For the hundreds of Muslims killed and displaced by Kenya's brutal invasion, Saitoti's death is but a droplet of justice in a sea of oppression," Shebab tweeted.

"The remaining invaders should be expectant that Allah will inflict his punishment by himself upon the kuffar (infidels) or by the hands of mujahideen," the militia said.

Kibaki said Sunday's deaths were "a devastating loss to our country," adding: "Minister Saitoti will forever be remembered as a hardworking and determined public servant who dedicated his time to the service of the Kenyan people."

Saitoti had also served as finance minister and was vice-president in the administration of Daniel Arap Moi from 1989-1997 and again from 1999-2002.

He jumped ship ahead of the 2002 election to join the opposition camp led by Kibaki after Moi, constitutionally barred from standing again, chose the then little-known Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's founding father, as his successor.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Halt Indonesia drug executions until graft claims probed: Australia
    Halt Indonesia drug executions until graft claims probed: Australia

    Australia urged Indonesia Monday to delay the execution of two men for drug offences until a corruption probe into their case is complete, after a report that judges sought tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. "Bali Nine" drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan could face the firing squad within days, along with others from Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and an Indonesian prisoner. "I should point out that Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran's lawyers are pursuing action before the …

  • Pacquiao pleads for Indonesia to spare death row Filipina
    Pacquiao pleads for Indonesia to spare death row Filipina

    World boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao took time out Monday from final preparations for his $400 million megafight with Floyd Mayweather to plead for the life of a Filipina on death row in Indonesia. Pacquiao, a national hero in the Philippines, added his voice to a chorus of global opposition led by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the executions of a group of eight foreign drug convicts, including compatriot Mary Jane Veloso. The eight-division world champion, who will face …

  • FordPH Launches the All-New Mustang
    FordPH Launches the All-New Mustang

    Ford Philippines launched the all-new Mustang in a rock concert held at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, last week .  The All-New Mustang is the sixth generation since Ford  launched the first model in April 17, 1964. “The all-new Mustang represents the very best of Ford and its arrival marks the latest chapter of the iconic muscle car’s rich legacy, crafted with a more contemporary look and feel.  With a history spanning more than 50 years, this iconic car is at the heart and soul of Ford and …

  • China maritime tensions dominate Southeast Asia summit
    China maritime tensions dominate Southeast Asia summit

    By Manuel Mogato and Praveen Menon KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Southeast Asian leaders edged closer to open criticism of China's land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea at a regional summit on Monday, as the Philippines drew the ire of Beijing which called its objections to the work "unreasonable". The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Kuala Lumpur, which was supposed to showcase the 10-member bloc's progress towards economic integration, was overshadowed by the …

  • The ‘All You Need’ 2015 Isuzu D-MAX launched
    The ‘All You Need’ 2015 Isuzu D-MAX launched

    Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) just recently introduced the 2015 Isuzu D-MAX pick-up truck at the Clark International Raceway to show that their pick-up model can conquer any kind of terrain.The high-end LS variant and standard LT 4x4 is now equipped with a more powerful engine, the 4JK1-TC (Hi) 2.5-liter engine which with Common Rail Direct Injection and an intercooled Variable Geometry System (VGS) turbocharger. IPC also introduced a new standard ride variant, the LT-X 4x2 manual …

  • Limited Edition Honda CR-V and Jazz now available
    Limited Edition Honda CR-V and Jazz now available

    If you’ve always wanted to be part of an exclusive group of car owners, now might be the time for you to consider getting a Honda CR-V or Jazz.  Honda Cars Philippines Inc. (HCPI) just came out with their limited edition All New Jazz and New CR-V. …

  • ToyotaPH hit its highest monthly sales last March
    ToyotaPH hit its highest monthly sales last March

    Toyota Motors Philippines hit its highest monthly sales to date last March, registering 10,237 units sold.  This recent CAMPI report puts Toyota’s market share at 43.5% last month. …

  • VolkswagenPH launches Child Safety Initiative
    VolkswagenPH launches Child Safety Initiative

    Volkswagen Philippines just  launched the VW Child Safety Initiative (CSI) campaign which aims to support child safety on Philippine roads at the just concluded Manila International Auto Show (MIAS). The World Health Organization’s road safety facts show about 1.24 million die each year globally as a result of vehicle related accidents. Child restraint systems like child seats and booster seats also reduce risk for children by about 70% for infants and upto 80% for small children. This …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options