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Chinese spy balloon flying above Charlotte

The U.S. military has shot down the Chinese spy balloon a week after it first entered U.S. airspace near Alaska.

A U.S. Air Force fighter jet shot the balloon down on Saturday while it was off the coast of South Carolina.

A senior defense official said during a Thursday afternoon briefing that the U.S. government is “confident” the surveillance balloon is from the People’s Republic of China.

The U.S. military first detected the balloon over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands on Jan. 28, but the Pentagon only disclosed the airship’s presence on Thursday when it was over Montana. By then the balloon had been observed by someone on a commercial aircraft and people on the ground, and it had hovered over parts of northwestern Canada and Idaho. Montana is home to U.S. land-based nuclear missile silos. The Pentagon said the balloon traveled over several “sensitive” areas.

In response to the U.S. military shooting down the spy balloon, China accused the U.S. of “overreacting”, with nationalist Chinese commentators blaming runaway political pressure in Washington for escalating the incident.

According to General Glen VanHerck, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, the U.S. Navy is currently working on recovering the balloon and its payload and the Coast Guard is providing security for the operation.

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