Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Belarus shoots down US balloon

Moscow - Belarus air defences have shot down a hot-air balloon, killing the two-man crew, both US nationals, the Belarus interior ministry announced. The incident took place on Tuesday near Bereza, 60 miles east of the Polish border. Belarus forces decided to bring down the balloon after they failed to establish contact with its crew. Police said that the pair were taking part in the Gordon Bennett Cup balloon race that began in Switzerland last week.

The United States sharply condemned the downing of the balloon and called for a thorough investigation of the incident. "In this day and age, in the post-Cold War era, what happened is unacceptable," said the State Department spokesman, Nicholas Burns, in Washington. AFP