Taiwan has fired flares to drive away unidentified aircraft, probably drones, that flew above the area of its Kinmen islands, the Defence Ministry said, as China geared for a massive military drill following US politician Nancy Pelosi's controversial trip to the island state.
Major General Chang Zone-sung of the Army's Kinmen Defence Command told the Reuters news agency that the drones came in a pair and flew into the Kinmen area twice on Wednesday night, at around 9 pm and 10 pm [local time].
"We immediately fired flares to issue warnings and to drive them away. After that, they turned around. They came into our restricted area and that's why we dispersed them," he said.
The heavily fortified Kinmen islands are just off the southeastern coast of China, near the city of Xiamen.
"We have a standard operating procedure. We will react if they come in," Chang said, adding that the alert level there remained "normal".
Chang said he believed the drones were intended to gather intelligence on Taiwan's security deployment in its outlying islands.
Last week, Taiwan's military fired flares to warn away a drone that "glanced" its Matsu archipelago off the coast of China's Fujian province and was possibly probing its defences, Taiwan's Defence Ministry said.
On Thursday, Taiwan also reported its website suffered cyber attacks and went offline temporarily, adding it was working closely with other authorities to enhance cyber security.
Earlier this week, several government websites, including the presidential office, were subject to overseas cyber attacks, some of which authorities said were launched by China and Russia.
High tensions in volatile region
Taiwan has been on alert as China conducts a series of military exercises in response to a visit to the island this week by US House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi.
Beijing considers Taiwan as an inseparable part of itself, but the latter has maintained its self-rule since 1949 and enjoys diplomatic ties with at least 14 countries.
Interactions between Washington and Taipei have grown significantly since the tenure of former US president Donald Trump, with former and sitting lawmakers making trips to the island, home to more than 25 million people.
The US formally recognised China in 1979 and shifted diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, and accepted Taiwan as part of the mainland under Washington's One China policy.