SEOUL, December 26. /TASS/. A South Korean military operation to counter North Korean drones that invaded South Korean airspace lasted about five hours, the Yonhap news agency reported on Monday, citing the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.
According to its information, the drone that flew to Seoul and returned to North Korea spent about three hours in the sky over South Korea. Four other drones disappeared from radar. The South Korean servicemen made attempts to shoot down the drone flying over the Ganghwa Island, but they were unsuccessful. Earlier, reports surfaced that North Korean drones were allegedly in the airspace of the Republic of Korea for at least seven hours.
"North Korean drones flew over private homes, city centers. In such cases our servicemen take into account the damage that could be done and therefore could not shoot them down. It would have been possible to do so in an area where there is no risk of damage to the homes of fellow citizens," a military official told News1.
According to the South Korean military, "unidentified objects" were detected in the border areas of Gyeonggi-do province at about 10:25 a.m. local time (4:25 a.m. Moscow time). The drones crossed the military demarcation line and appeared in the cities of Paju, Gimpo, and the Ganghwa Island, leading to the temporary suspension of about 30 civilian flights at Seoul airports.
The Republic of Korea responded by mobilizing its planes, helicopters and other aviation items. South Korean servicemen sent warning messages, fired warning shots, then "launched an operation to destroy them (the unidentified objects - TASS)." In addition, the South Korean side "responded proportionately" by sending its own reconnaissance equipment into the border zone, including north of the military demarcation line.
Among the South Korean equipment involved was a KAI KT-1 Woongbi aircraft. It was earlier reported that it crashed for unspecified reasons at about 11:39 a.m. local time (5:39 a.m. Moscow time), the pilots were not hurt. The last time North Korean drones violated the border was in 2017.