News and Views

Kenya’s security minister,Prof Saitoti confirmed dead

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NAIROBI – Professor George Saitoti, a senior Kenyan cabinet minister and his deputy were killed when a police helicopter crashed into a forest just outside the capital and burst into flames, local television stations said on Sunday.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s spokesman said Odinga had been informed of the deaths of internal security minister Saitoti and his deputy, Orwa Ojode.

The Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has arrived at the scene of the crash and confirmed the deaths of Saitoti, Ojode, bodyguards and pilot.

Saitoti became Kenya’s longest sitting vice-president serving for 13 years under President Daniel arap Moi between May 1989 and December 1997 with a break between 1997 and 1999 and again between April 1999 and August 2002.

At the same time, he served as Minister for Finance.

The police helicopter carrying him and assistant minister for internal security Ojode exploded and crashed in the Kibiku area of Ngong forest killing them both.

Born August 3 1945, Saitoti has died aged 66.

Saitoti was also a presidential candidate in an election expected to be held by March next year.

A Reuters photographer counted three charred bodies at the scene of the crash in a forest in the Ngong area just outside of Nairobi.

Debris of the burnt-out blue police helicopter were strewn in the brush where government officials and curious locals jostled to catch a glimpse.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash. More people were feared to have been on board the helicopter.

Saitoti, an ally of President Mwai Kibaki, was the leading government voice against Somali militants al Shabaab, often visiting the scenes of grenade attacks inside Kenya and vowing the east African nation would crush the group.

Kenya’s troops have been fighting al Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia since last October. The militants have killed several people in a string of grenade attacks in Nairobi, the far north and the coast in retaliation to Kenya’s moves against them.

Source: Reuters

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