Rebel group claims responsibility for Ethiopian Mi-35 crash

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – a paramilitary rebel group in Ethiopia – has claimed to have shot down an Ethiopian Air Force-operated Mil Mi-35 attack helicopter, which was lost to attrition on April 20.

The Mil Mi-35 (NATO reporting name: Hind-E/F) – serial unknown – was operating near Abiy Addi in Ethiopia’s Tigray province when it was destroyed in a crash at approximately 1700hrs (local time). It has been reported that all three crew members on board the aircraft were killed in the crash.

Ethiopian Mi-35 crash [TPLF]
The wrecked Ethiopian Air Force Mi-35 Hind-E/F following its crash on April 20, 2021. TPLF

While the TPLF has claimed to have shot down the attack helicopter, there has yet to be any official confirmation of this by the Ethiopian government. Video and still images from the TPLF shows the wreckage to be completely burnt out.

The TPLF is a paramilitary rebel group which is fighting against the incumbent Ethiopian government. In recent years, tensions between the nationalist group and the Ethiopian government have grown exponentially, leading Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to launch a military offensive against the TPLF in the Tigray region last November.

The growing tensions and subsequent conflict led to the removal of TPLF-affiliated Debretsion Gebremichael as the chief executive of the Tigray region, who was replaced by Mulu Nega, who remains in the position today.

AirForces Intelligence data confirms that the Mi-35 Hind-E/F involved in this recent incident belonged to the air force’s 21 Squadron, which is based at Dire Dawa International Airport in eastern Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Air Force is believed to operate ten Mil Mi-35 Hind-Es, as well as five Mi-35P Hind-Fs – all of which are assigned to 21 Squadron.