Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Monday, 14 December 2009

Eritrea football team 'absconds' in Kenya

Eritrea playing Tanzania, 08/12
Eritrea were knocked out by Tanzania last week

Officials have launched a search for Eritrea's national football team after the players reportedly failed to return home following a tournament in Kenya.

The Eritreans were knocked out of the Cecafa competition for East and Central African nations last week.

But when the team plane landed back home, it was reportedly only carrying the coach and an official.

The government, which is frequently accused of repression, denies any players are missing.

But the country's football federation confirmed to Cecafa head Nicholas Musonye that the players had not returned.

Mr Musonye told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme it was the third time the Eritrean team had failed to return home after a tournament.

"The Eritrean federation have done their best to bring a team to the competition - unfortunately these boys had other ideas," he said.

"Definitely they are in Nairobi - we have so many Eritreans here - they must be somewhere."

He said he would establish the facts and hand the details on to the police.

The UN says hundreds of Eritreans flee the country every month.

Critics say the country's repressive government, poverty and a harsh national service regime forces many to leave.

But the government denies that Eritreans are fleeing and accuses the UN of lying about the figures.

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