Indian army says 'missing' nationals back
The Indian army said on Saturday that China has released five Indian nationals who went missing earlier this month from the eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh amid simmering border tensions between the two countries.
“Individuals will now be quarantined for 14 days as per COVID-19 protocol and will thereafter be handed over to their family members,” Lieutenant Colonel Harsh Wardhan Pande, a spokesman for the Indian army, said in a statement.
Pande said the five youths had “inadvertently strayed” across the border while foraging and hunting, adding that two other such incidents had taken place this year in India’s Arunachal Pradesh state, which borders China.
However, Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times said the five were Indian intelligence agents dressed as hunters, disputing claims that they had been kidnapped.
The five men went missing on September 2, adding to the already heightened tensions between India and China. The two countries have been locked in a bitter standoff for months in the Ladakh region, where in June they had their deadliest clash in decades.
The handover took place two days after a meeting in Moscow between the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers, who said they had agreed to disengage from the frontier as soon as possible.