Ethiopian pilot defects to Eritrea in helicopter

Eritrea and Ethiopia have been locked in a border dispute for years and routinely accuse each other of backing rebels trying to destabilise and topple the other's government

Ethiopian pilot defects to Eritrea in helicopter

An Ethiopian air force pilot has defected to Eritrea, flying a helicopter across the border with his co-pilot and a technician, Ethiopian state-run media said on Tuesday.

The three men had been missing since Friday morning soon after leaving their base on a routine training session, Ethiopian Television reported.

Eritrea and Ethiopia have been locked in a border dispute for years and routinely accuse each other of backing rebels trying to destabilise and topple the other's government - a legacy from the two-year war they fought in the late 1990s.

"The military helicopter landed in Eritrea, flown by a traitor pilot who forced both his co-pilot and a technician while they took part in a training exercise," the report said, citing a defence ministry statement.

It did not give further details.

No official from either side was available for comment, but reports from pro-Eritrean government outlets and those of opposition groups said the helicopter was an MI-35 gunship.

Ethiopia says the spat over the demarcation of their shared border following the 1998-2000 war would only be solved through a negotiated settlement.

Eritrea wants Ethiopia to pull its troops out before normalising relations, citing a decision by a Hague-based boundary commission which awarded it the flashpoint frontier village of Badme in 2002.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Aralık 2014, 16:25
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