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Greek fighter pilot killed in crash after Turkish intercept mission

12th April 2018 - 15:16 GMT | by ​Agence France-Presse in Athens


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A Greek fighter pilot died on 12 April when his plane crashed in the Aegean whilst returning from a mission to intercept Turkish jets, officials said.

Panos Kammenos, Greek Defence Minister, said in a tweet: ‘A Greek pilot [has entered] the pantheon of heroes. He fell... fighting to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.’

A Greek general staff source told AFP that the Mirage 2000-5 plane was returning from a mission to intercept Turkish fighter jets.

The source said: ‘The mission was over and the plane was returning. We still don't know if there was an actual engagement with the Turkish Air Force.’

State TV ERT said the warplane disappeared shortly before it was due to land at an airfield on Skyros island in the central Aegean.

Greek fighter planes are regularly scrambled to intercept Turkish jets entering what Athens considers Greek airspace over the Aegean.

The accident comes at a period of heightened tension between regional rivals and NATO allies Greece and Turkey.

Earlier in the week of 9 April, Greek soldiers fired warning shots at a Turkish helicopter after it approached the small island of Ro, which is on Greece's border in the southeastern Aegean Sea.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and members of his government have escalated verbal attacks on Greece after its failure to extradite eight Turkish soldiers that Ankara said were part of an attempted 2016 coup. 

In March 2018, Turkey captured and is still holding two Greek soldiers who crossed the border, allegedly whilst getting lost in fog on patrol.

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