After US, Colombia spots 'balloon-like' object in its airspace
Colombia's military confirmed seeing an object resembling an air balloon flying over its territory on Saturday. The country's air force also issued a statement giving out limited details about the airborne object and said it "did not constitute a threat to national security and defense or to aviation security." The object was detected on Friday and monitored until it left the country's airspace.`
Why does this story matter?
- This came after the United States government sounded a warning about a suspected Chinese air balloon flying over its territory, allegedly surveilling its nuclear weapons sites, and over some South American countries.
- Tensions between both countries rose, following which the US shot down the balloon using a fighter jet on Saturday.
- China called the use of force against an "unmanned civilian airship" an "overreaction."
US Secretary of State canceled his Beijing visit
The object detected over Colombia was flowing at an altitude of 17,000 meters at an average speed of 46km per hour. Colombia further said it was coordinating with other countries and institutions to establish the object's origin. Separately, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was expected to make his first Beijing visit but canceled it following strained ties with China over the balloon incident.
Recently, similar sightings have been reported from Venzuela, Costa Rica
Canada backs US over shooting down of balloon
Canada's Minister of Federal Defense Anita Anand "unequivocally supported" the US's move to shoot down the balloon, which also violated Canadian airspace. However, Colombia's neighbor Venezuela, which is under US sanctions, denounced the US's use of force on civilian aircraft rather than dealing with the situation with seriousness and responsibility. Nonetheless, US President Joe Biden praised the Pentagon for shooting down the balloon.
Weather balloon blown off course: China
While the US claimed that the balloon was gathering information about its highly sensitive nuclear weapons sites, the Pentagon acknowledged that the balloon didn't pose a particularly dangerous intelligence threat. On the other hand, China claimed it was a weather balloon that was blown off course. Meanwhile, multiple social media users in Venezuela and Costa Rica have recently claimed to have sighted similar balloons.