US shoots down airship over Atlantic

The US has shot down a giant Chinese balloon that it says has been spying on key military sites across America.

The Department of Defense confirmed its fighter jets brought down the balloon over US territorial waters.

Three airports were shut and airspace was closed off the coast of North and South Carolina as the military carried out the operation on Saturday.

Footage from the AP news agency showed the balloon falling to the sea after a small explosion.

US President Joe Biden has been under pressure to shoot the balloon down since it first appeared in its airspace last week.

According to a statement from the Pentagon, on Wednesday Mr Biden approved the plan to take down the “surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path”.

Officials had advised him against targeting the object while it was over land due to the danger of falling debris.

Earlier on Saturday, President Biden told reporters he would “take care of it” in answer to a question about what would happen to the high-altitude craft.

The balloon’s arrival over the US comes amid fraying tensions between Washington and Beijing, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling off a trip to Beijing over the matter. (BBC)

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