13 February 2013

Liberia: Deadly AFL Day - As Plane Crash Kills Guinea Army Chief, Several 0thers

Festivities marking the official observance of Armed Forces Liberia (AFL) Day turned sad and mournful Monday (Feb 11) when a plane bringing an official delegation from Guinea to attend the event in the capital crashed reportedly killing all onboard.

The head of Guinea's armed forces General Souleymane Kelefa Diallo and other senior military officials were killed in the crash, Guinean and Liberian authorities confirmed.

The Roberts International Airport (RIA) confirmed a crash incident involving a CASA Aircraft (CN-235) with registration 3X-GGG approximately 3 miles south of the aerodrome.

"The flight originated from Conakry, the Republic of Guinea. At 0709 GMT Air Traffic Control cleared the flight to land at RIA. That was the last known contact with the crew," a statement noted.

Guinean military spokesman Alpha Barry established that the Armed Forces Chief of the Guinean Military, Gen. Souleymane Kelefa Diallo, was among those killed in the crash.

The Guinean military chief was on a security mission to Liberia, police in Guinea said.

Information Minister Lewis Brown confirmed that the plane went down in Charlesville, near Liberia's largest airport, some 45 kilometers (28 miles) south of Monrovia. He told a press conference that 11 bodies had been recovered, while investigation was ongoing.

International partners, he said, have been contacted to help with investigation, and the public will be provided with more information.

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf spoke of the crash while speaking later at the AFL's 56th Anniversary Celebrations, and called for a moment of silence for those involved in the crash and declared Tuesday (today) a day of mourning.

The cause of the crash is yet unknown, but speaking to journalists in Monrovia, Guinean Ambassador to Liberia Elhadji Abdoudaye Dore said the incident may have occurred due to some "technical failure" on the plain.

The Guinean Ambassador did not disclose the names of those onboard the plane that left Guinea but indicated that the country's Army Chief was among those killed in the crash.

Meanwhile, the remains of those involved in the crash were taken to the Samuel Stryker Funeral Home in Sinkor the suburb of Monrovia.

Day of Mourning

President Sirleaf later issued a proclamation declaring today a national mourning day to be observed as working holiday.

The Proclamation: "Whereas, the Government of the Republic of Liberia has learned with utter shock and regrets the news of a plane crash near Monrovia, in the early hours of Monday, February 11, 2013, which claimed the lives of the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Guinea, General Kelefa Diallo, and nine others comprising Guinean military officers and flight crew, who were on their way to attend the 56th Anniversary Celebrations of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Liberia; and, Whereas, it has been the policy of the Government of the Republic of Liberia to adopt such measures as would be appropriate to show solidarity with other friendly nations.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, by virtue of the authority in me vested, and in honor of our gallant and distinguished fallen regional military officers and flight crew, do hereby declare Tuesday, February 12, 2013 as a day of mourning for the colossal loss sustained to be observed as a "National Holiday" throughout the Republic."

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