North Korean drone reaches north of Seoul, South Korea scrambles jets

KOREA: South Korea scrambled fighter jets and attack helicopters after North Korean drones violated its airspace. South Korea also fired warning shots after the incident, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

“Several North Korean unmanned aerial vehicles invaded our airspace” in the border areas around Gyeonggi province, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, Agencies reported.

The incident took place after South Korea tracked the drones crossing from North Korea over what is known as the Military Demarcation Line between the two countries, Yonhap reported. While scrambling to counter the drones, a South Korean KA-1 light attack aircraft crashed shortly after departing its Wonju base, a defence ministry official said, as per Reuters.

Its two pilots were able to escape before the crash and are now in the hospital, the report added.

Earlier, South Korea’s transport ministry said flights departing from its Incheon and Gimpo airports were suspended following a request from the military.

The incursion is the first time in five years that North Korean drones have invaded South Korean airspace. It also comes as Pyongyang raised tensions with an unprecedented blitz of weapons tests this year. A South Korean military official described the latest incursion as a clear act of provocation by Pyongyang.

“Our military will continue to respond thoroughly and resolutely to North Korea’s provocations,” the military added. In response, the South Korean military said it also sent surveillance planes into the North to photograph its military installations.

The last time a North Korean drone crossed the border was five years ago in June 2017, when tensions between the two Koreas were last at their highest. North Korea’s drones pose a threat to South Korea’s security as they could be used both to spy on the South and to launch an attack on it.

Earlier this month, the North claimed to have performed major tests needed to help it develop its first spy satellite, which could be used to monitor South Korea. It released an aerial photo of Seoul, which it said had been taken during the test.

Experts believe North Korea is working to refine and improve its weapons, while putting pressure on the United States to ease sanctions in any future negotiations.




by Daily News Sri Lanka

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