China releases five Indians detained near Tibet
China on Saturday released five Indian nationals it detained in a region bordering Tibet, the Indian army said, days after the two sides agreed to dial down tensions on their disputed frontier.
The men, who the Indian side said had accidentally strayed into Chinese territory, were escorted back across the high-altitude frontier by the People's Liberation Army to the border town of Kibithu.
"After quarantine of 14 days for Covid-19 they will be handed over to family members," an Indian defence spokesman said on Twitter.
There was no official confirmation of the release from China, but the state run Global Times tabloid claimed the men were "Indian intelligence staff who had disguised themselves as hunters".
It reported that the men had trespassed and that Chinese officials had "detained, warned and educated" them.
India and China, which fought a brief but deadly border war in 1962, have been embroiled in a series of deadly clashes and showdowns on their contested Himalayan border in recent months.
Both sides have sent tens of thousands of troops to the region since a skirmish in June that saw 20 Indian troops killed, along with a still unknown number of Chinese casualties.
New Delhi responded with an escalating economic embargo that saw a ban on Chinese-made apps and a block on Chinese goods at its ports and customs posts.
Earlier this week the Global Times published a strident editorial warning that Indian troops "will all be annihilated" if Delhi provoked a war.
Saturday's 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.