WASHINGTON: The US has formally complained to China over several incidents of its pilots being irritated by lasers it says are coming from a Chinese base in Djibouti. The Pentagon said it had asked China to investigate several “very serious incidents”. It said people at the east African base had been shining military-grade lasers at US pilots coming in to land. China has rejected the allegations, saying they are “inconsistent with facts”.
A foreign ministry spokeswoman told reporters that the reports had been carefully verified and the US had been informed they were not true. “You can remind relevant people in the US to pay attention to facts and not to make groundless accusations,” she added.
The US has a military base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, which is used for counter-terrorism operations in Africa and the Middle East. Last year, China opened its first overseas military base only a few kilometres from the US facility.
“They are very serious incidents,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters. “We have formally démarched the Chinese government and we’ve requested the Chinese investigate these incidents.” Ms White said the Pentagon was confident that while the intent had been unclear, lasers had been pointed by Chinese nationals. In the past few weeks, about 10 incidents took place, she said.
In one case, two pilots on a cargo plane suffered minor eye injuries as they came in to land, US officials said. Agencies