Taiwan shoots down unidentified drone over Kinmen area near mainland China

The drone was seen shortly after noon on Thursday over the waters of Lion Island, a small island in the Taiwanese-controlled Kinmen County cluster about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) offshore Xiamen, China.

The Kinmen Defense Command, a division of Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, said the drone was shot down after warning missiles failed to drive it away.

This is the latest in a series of similar incidents near the coastal group of islands.

Unidentified drones have been reported in the Kinmen area for four consecutive days, but Taiwan has shot them down for the first time.

On Tuesday, Taiwanese soldiers fired flares at three unidentified drones flying near Kinmen and warning shots at one that had re-entered the area.

It is not clear who is operating the drones, although China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday it was “unaware of the situation” and that “it is pointless for (Taiwan) to exaggerate tensions.”

Following Tuesday’s incident, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said she had ordered the Ministry of Defense to take “strong countermeasures” against what she said were China’s “grey zone” warfare tactics.

On Wednesday, Taiwan’s National Defense Ministry confirmed the message at an international press conference convened in response to Chinese military exercises in August, saying it “will act in accordance with operational orders to exercise our rights of self-defence.”

Tensions between Taiwan and mainland China escalated after U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August. The Chinese Communist Party considers Taiwan, a self-governing democracy, part of its territory despite never ruling it, and has long vowed to “reunite” the island with mainland China, by force if necessary. China responded to Pelosi’s trip by ordering several days of military exercises around Taiwan.

Asked about reports of private drone flights in the Kinmen area on Monday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman replied, “Chinese drones are flying over Chinese territory – why be surprised?”

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