Middle East

2 Eritrean pilots defect to Ethiopia with jets: Opposition

An Eritrean opposition group says that two Eritrean pilots have defected with their fighter jets to neighboring Ethiopia in a dramatic exit from one of the world's most closed-off states.

Nasredin Ahmed Ali, spokesman for the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization based in Ethiopia, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the pilots flew to the northern Ethiopia city of Mekelle on Wednesday morning.

The spokesman named the pilots as Afeworki Fisehaye and Mebrahtu Tesfamariam and described them as very experienced with the Eritrean Air Force. He said they were accompanied by Ethiopian fighter jets upon their entry into Ethiopian air space.

An Eritrean official based in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, said he was not aware of the defections. Ethiopia's government spokesman, Getachew Reda, declined to comment.