China is aiming lasers at USA military pilots in Africa, Pentagon says

Marines djibouti

China is aiming lasers at USA military pilots in Africa, Pentagon says

In past weeks, there have been at least four incidents in which USA service members have been targeted with military-grade or non military-grade lasers originating near a Chinese military installation in Djibouti, according to The Wall Street Journal.

According to the source, the result of one incident last month, two American military transport aircraft C-130 received an eye injury due to laser application.

The pilots suffered minor eye injuries.

"They are very serious incidents ..."

The Chinese Defense Ministry, which has a military base just miles from the US's Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, denied the accusations.

Chinese military analysts who spoke to theSouth China Morning Post, a news organization based in Hong Kong, said the lasers may have been meant to disperse birds or intercept reconnaissance drones.

USA officials issued a warning to pilots in the area to be cautious due to "lasers being directed at United States aircraft on a small number of separate occasions over the last few weeks", according to CNN. Djibouti has become a hub of foreign military activity in recent years, hosting bases from an array of countries including France, Italy and Japan.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said two USA military pilots suffered minor eye damage from lasers hitting the cockpit of their C-130 transport airplane landing at Camp Lemonnier in the African nation. Some 10 incidents occurred in the space of the last two weeks, when United States aircraft landing at the base were hit by laser beams.

The US accused China on Thursday of pointing lasers at US military aircraft near Djibouti multiple times in the last few weeks, but Beijing has denied the allegations.

Ms White said the Pentagon was confident the lasers had been pointed by Chinese nationals and in the past few weeks fewer than 10 incidents had taken place.

"This activity poses a big threat to our airmen", White said, adding that "the incidents had grown increasingly serious".

In 2017, China opened up an outpost in Djibouti as well, close to the American base.

The US has filed a complaint against Beijing over an alleged military laser incident in Djibouti, which hosts both US and Chinese military bases. The halting of air operations was done at the request of Djiboutian government.

On the proximity of Chinese base to the American base, White said "these are sovereign questions" and "the Djibouti government is free to work with who they want to".

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