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Eritrean air force pilots, named Mebrahtu Tesfamariam and Afework fissehaye, have defected on Wednesday by flying their military aircraft Zlin-143-102 to Ethiopia’s northern city, Mekelle, sources disclosed to Awramba times.
This is not the first time for Eritrean air force members to defect to the neighboring nations.
In 2012, two Eritrean military pilots secretly flew President Isaias Afewerki’s plane to Saudi Arabia where they sought political asylum.
A year after this incident, three other members of the Eritrean air force have defected with their fighter jet to Saudi Arabia. In April the same year, another female Eritrean air force pilot sent by the regime to retrieve the stolen jet from Saudi Arabia herself was defected.
As no Eritrean pilot has yet made his route to Ethiopia, the pilots who defected to Ethiopia today are the first ever Eritrean air force members to make the neighboring Ethiopia a destination of their defection.
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Ethiopia’s gov’t spokesman, Getachew Reda, has told reporters today that Human Rights Watch is probably the most ‘incorrigible’ offender as far as putting blames on the gov’t is concerned. He said they are also ‘absolute liars’ and come up with all sorts of statistics ‘even before their plot is hatched.’
“There is no love lost between this government and Human Rights Watch,” he said.
On Somalia, Getachew said Ethiopia is pulling out some of its troops from certain locations in war- torn Somalia. He said the country’s forces under AMISOM were not relocated as part of the recent pull out that reportedly led to the subsequent capture of the abandoned areas by Al Shabab forces.
“The troops that we sent to Somalia on our own do not necessarily have to stay there as long as AMISOM does,” Getachew said adding that the recent pullout form Halgan was part of a decision to move a contingent, which he said was not part of AMISOM, back to other bases in Somalia. “The assumption all along was that the international community will continue to support the Somalia national army in taking over places that have been liberated by our forces. But for our forces to remain there indefinitely would be the height of irresponsibility.”
He stressed that the pullout is not related to the State of Emergency that the country declared on October 8. He also urged the international community to step up and come to ‘take up the slack from us.’
The spokesman said Somali officials were communicated about the withdrawal of forces including form Halgan, where a deadly fight between Ethiopian and Al Shabab forces reportedly left hundreds dead. He, however, declined to comment how many of his forces were withdrawing from Somalia.
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