Nigerian army chief, Ibrahim Attahiru, dies in air force plane crash
Nigeria's army chief, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, died in a plane crash on Friday on an official visit to the northern state of Kaduna, which has had security challenges in recent months.
Nigeria's air force said in a statement that its plane crashed near Kaduna airport and that it was investigating the cause.
The presidency said the army general and other military officers died in the crash on Friday.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a presidency statement, described the crash as a "mortal blow ... at a time our armed forces are poised to end the security challenges facing the country."
The crash occurred three months after a small Nigerian air force passenger plane went down just outside Abuja airport following alleged engine failure, killing all seven people on board.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, has had 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 insurgents and armed gangs.
Boko Haram and other terror groups affiliated with ISIS/Daesh have waged a decade-long insurgency estimated to have displaced about 2 million people and killed more than 30,000.
Nigeria’s military is investigating reports that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau may have been killed or seriously injured following clashes with a rival group.
Nigeria’s intelligence services and military have reported Shekau’s death many times before.
The presence of terrorist groups in Africa has been an excuse for global powers to re-enter these countries. This was seen in the French military intervention in Mali and the US military campaign in Somalia.