By Karine Kalantarian
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it is looking into reports that Armenian nationals were among 15 suspected mercenaries arrested in Equatorial Guinea this week for allegedly plotting to topple the central African state’s ruler.
Authorities there say the detained men were an advance party of a larger group of alleged mercenaries seized in Zimbabwe at the weekend. News agency reports quoted on Tuesday Equatorial Guinea’s information minister as saying that among them are individuals from South Africa, Germany, Armenia and Kazakhstan.
The official said they arrived in the former Spanish colony in December and had since been "plotting to kill the president.” No further details were reported.
Foreign Ministry officials in Yerevan told RFE/RL that they are now trying to ascertain the identity of individuals who are said to be Armenian. They said the efforts are complicated by the absence of Armenian diplomatic missions in sub-Saharan Africa. Armenian diplomats have been told to try to obtain relevant information from Guinean and Zimbabwean embassies in third countries, officials added.
Meanwhile, the Armenian government’s civil aviation department revealed that four Armenian pilots have worked in Equatorial Guinea for a Yerevan-based small private carrier since January. Department sources told RFE/RL that they were hired to operate the Tiga Air company’s Antonov-12 plane chartered to carry out local flights. They said the aviation authority has no information on their whereabouts.
A total of some 60 Armenian pilots currently work in various parts of Africa, according to the agency.