January 5, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ethiopian government on Monday dismissed reports circulated by opposition media alleging that four Air Force pilots have deserted to neighbouring Kenya.
The Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) on Thursday alleged that four military Air force pilots have flown from an airbase in Ethiopia’s eastern Dire Dawa city to defect to Kenya.
Following the alleged defection, ESAT’s report added “a number of pilots have been taken away by security and intelligence agents who swarmed the base confiscating mobile communication devices from selected members of the Air Force”.
However government officials have downplayed the report as fabricated.
“No Air force pilot has defected to Kenya. It is an absolute lie” a military official who is not authorized to speak to media told Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity.
“Such fabricated reports are parts of ESAT’s smear campaign aimed to tarnish image of the country and reputation of the Air force” the official added.
Two weeks ago, an Ethiopian senior Air Force pilot defected to neighbouring Eritrea along with the two trainees and MI 35 fighter helicopter during a training session.
The Ethiopian ministry of Defence then said the senior trainer pilot forced the copilot and the technician to land the helicopter in Eritrea by diverting their flight.
In 2014, some 11 Ethiopian Air Force pilots have reportedly defected to arch rival Eritrea.