Drones accusations for North Korea
Published 02/04/2014 | 06:52
Two unmanned drones that crashed recently near the border with North Korea were flown by the North on possible surveillance missions, according to South Korean officials.
A drone crashed on frontline Baengnyeong island on Monday when the two countries fired hundreds of artillery shells into each other's waters in a flare-up of animosity over a long-disputed sea boundary between the countries.
On March 24, another drone crashed in Paju, a South Korean city near the land border with the North.
Preliminary investigations found that the two sky-blue small aircraft were both rudimentary drones equipped with Japanese cameras that cannot send video or photos in real time, said Defence Ministry spokesman Kwon Kihyeon.
The drones can only take still photos and have to be retrieved to obtain the images, he said.
South Korean officials suspect the drones were from North Korea because Korean-language letters on their batteries are written in North Korean style, Mr Kwon said.
He added that the drones took pictures of Seoul, Paju and other areas near the land border, but refused to say which specific sites were taken.
South Korean media reports, citing unidentified military officials, reported that the drones were taking pictures of military facilities on Baengnyeong island, the South Korean presidential office and a highway linking border areas to Seoul.
The reports said North Korea has been operating unmanned drones since the early 1990s.
The two Koreas have been divided along the world's most heavily fortified border since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
About 28,500 American soldiers are stationed in South Korea to help deter aggression from North Korea.