Nigeria’s top-ranking army commander Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru and other officers were killed on Friday when their plane crashed in bad weather in the country’s north, officials said.
Chief of Army Staff Attahiru was only appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in January as part of a shakeup of the top military command to better fight surging violence and a more than decade-long jihadist insurgency.
Attahiru died as news also emerged that Nigeria’s Boko Haram jihadist leader Abubakar Shekau had himself been seriously wounded or possibly killed after clashes with a rival Islamic State-allied faction.
President Buhari, a former general first elected in 2015, has been under increasing pressure from allies and critics alike over his government’s handling of mounting security problems in Africa’s most populous country.
In a statement, Buhari said the crash “was one mortal blow to our underbelly, at a time our armed forces are poised to end the security challenges facing the country”.
The army spokesman said on Twitter that ten other officers including the plane’s crew also died in the crash in north Kaduna state.
The incident occurred as the plane was landing at the Kaduna International Airport “due to inclement weather,” the armed forces said in a statement.