A devastating helicopter crash in Lamu County has sent shockwaves through the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) as several military personnel patrolling the dense Boni Forest are feared dead.

The incident occurred on Monday night during a critical phase of Operation Amani Boni (OAB), a multi-agency security operation aimed at flushing out Al Shabaab militants believed to be hiding within the forest.

The ill-fated mission was part of an ongoing air surveillance operation supporting Operation Amani Boni, which has been active in the counties of Lamu, Tana River, Garissa, and Kilifi since its launch by the national government in September 2015.

This operation was initiated in response to the heinous Mpeketoni terrorist attack in June 2014, which claimed over 90 lives and caused extensive property damage.

The KDF officially confirmed the incident, expressing their condolences to the families of the crew members who lost their lives in the crash.

"A Kenya Air Force Huey Helicopter crashed last night while on night patrol in Lamu County. The crew and other military personnel on board were part of an air surveillance for the ongoing Operation Amani Boni," KDF stated in a statement,

"The leadership and entire KDF fraternity condole with the families of the crew. A Board of Inquiry has been constituted and dispatched to the scene to establish the cause of the crash."

The precise reason for the crash remains under investigation, and a Board of Inquiry has already been dispatched to the crash site to determine the exact cause of the tragedy.

The incident took place around 7:30 p.m. on Monday, and the bodies of the fallen soldiers were transported to Nairobi on Tuesday morning.

The team was responding to intelligence indicating the presence of Al Shabaab militants in the area and subsequently raided what was believed to be one of the terrorist group's logistics camps, where teams responsible for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were operating.

Upon entering the area, Special Forces engaged the militants who had been hiding in the dense underbrush, leading to a fierce and protracted gun battle.

The operation resulted in the capture of an array of weapons, including AK-47 rifles, AK-47 magazines, Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers, warheads, and assorted AK-47 ammunition.

The soldiers had acted on intelligence reports suggesting that Al Shabaab militants were spotted in the vicinity of Bodhei in Lamu County before launching the ambush, resulting in the encounter with the insurgents and the elimination of two operatives. 

The tragic loss of military personnel during this critical anti-terrorism operation underscores the ongoing challenges that Kenyan security forces face in their tireless efforts to combat the threat posed by Al Shabaab militants in the region.

As the investigation into the helicopter crash continues, the nation mourns the brave soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.