Eleven Guinean soldiers who died in a plane crash in Liberia early this week were on Wednesday buried in the Guinean capital, Conakry, with president Alpha Condé paying glowing tribute to their memory.
Standing in front of the coffins draped in national colours, President Conde, with tears in his eyes, mentioned the names of the deceased, and said their passing was a great loss to their families and national defence force.
'The death of the valiant soldiers, who were on a national mission, comes at a crucial time when the restructuring of the armed forces, whose general chief-of-staff, Souleymane Kèlèfa Diallo, also died in the crash, constituted the linchpin,' he said.
Thousands of people, including several foreign delegations from countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), attended the funeral rites at the People’s Palace (National Assembly) where the soldiers were posthumously decorated before burial at the Kameroun cemetery.
The head of state exhorted the military to tighten their ranks with a view to building a Republican army which has been ongoing for the past few months.
The deceased soldiers were going to in Liberia on Monday to participate in a military festival when their Philippine-made 'Casa' plane, disappeared from the radar some 65 km southeast of the Liberian capital, Monrovia. The plane crashed in the forest at about 0730 GMT killing all the soldiers.
The cause of the crash has not yet been identified.
A high-powered Liberian delegation led by the Defence Minister, Brownie Samukai, accompanied the bodies back to Guinea.