US shoots down suspected Chinese spy balloon off Carolina coast
Washington DC/IBNS: The United States Saturday shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the country's east coast, the Pentagon said.
Earlier this week, the US had claimed that the balloon was spying on sensitive military sites across North America.
"Today's deliberate and lawful action demonstrates that President (Joe) Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first while responding effectively to the PRC's unacceptable violation of our sovereignty," Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement.
Footage on local media showed a small explosion, which was followed by the balloon descending toward the water.
The operation was planned in a manner that all the debris falls into the ocean. Ships had been deployed to recover as much of the debris as possible.
The US government was trying to track the suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon.
Hours before the balloon was shot down, US President Joe Biden had vowed to "take care" of the balloon.
In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder had said: "The United States Government has detected and is tracking a high altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now."
"The U.S. government, to include NORAD, continues to track and monitor it closely. The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years," the spokesperson had said.
Asked by reporters to comment on relations with China and the balloon incident, Biden told reporters, "We're gonna take care of it."
The balloon was initially detected entering US airspace on January 28. The white orb lingered over Montana, the site of intercontinental-ballistic-missile silos, and made its way across the country to North Carolina on Saturday.