Ethiopia military says it shot down plane 'carrying arms'

Members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force

Members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) are seen on a truck as they transport a Saeer KS-19 automatic 100mm anti aircraft gun in Shewa Robit, Ethiopia, on December 05, 2021.

Photo credit: Amanuel Sileshi | AFP

The Ethiopian military claimed on Wednesday to have shot down a transport plane carrying weapons to rebellious Tigray forces in the country's north.

“The plane was shot down over North Humera while crossing Ethiopian airspace from Sudan,” said the Head of Joint Operations Division at the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Major General Tesfaye Ayalew.

The Military official said that the plane was downed by the Ethiopian Air Force around 10:00pm local time but didn't gave further details.

It is not yet clear who the plane belongs to.

“The Ethiopian Defense Forces (NDF) are vigilant to guard their country against any enemies, terrorist that are trying to undermine Ethiopia's sovereignty,” the official said.

Earlier, Redwan Hussein, the Security Adviser to the Ethiopian Prime Minister, said that the plane was shot at in the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, while it was unloading weapons.

Nation.Africa could not independently verify both claims.

A senior Tigray official has downplayed the claims made by the Ethiopian military saying it is a fabricated story.

“They [military] are making up stories about planes carrying weapons to Tigray and one of them being shot down by their Air Force.  It’s a blatant lie!” Said Getachew Reda, advisor to the President of Tigray.

Tigray government external affairs office similarly issued a statement saying the claims were “a blatant lie.”

“No planes entered Tigray; nor was an imaginary plane shot down. Having already internationalized the war on Tigray, the Abiy regime is in search of a bogeyman to justify its ongoing genocidal campaign,” the statement seen by Nation.Africa said.

The claims by Ethiopian military come hours after the warring factions resumed fighting ending a six-month long truce.

Shocked by the resumption of the fighting, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for “an immediate cessation of hostilities.”

The conflict, which broke out in November 2020 in Tigray, has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians and left millions in need of food aid.