By Shuriah Niazi

NEW DELHI

China returned five Indian nationals on Saturday 10 days after their alleged abduction, according to the Indian army.

Allegedly seized from a northern Indian village, they were accused by Beijing of being members of the Indian intelligence agency, according to a Chinese state-run media outlet.

The Indians were abducted by the Chinese military from a village in the northern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh earlier this month.

“Indian Army took over all five individuals missing from Arunachal Pradesh at Kibitu today after completing all formalities,” the Indian army said in a statement.

The move comes after a five-point agreement to ease tensions at disputed borders between New Delhi and Beijing during a Wednesday meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministers in Moscow.

“Individuals will now be quarantined for 14 days as per COVID-19 protocol and will thereafter be handed over to their family members,” said a military spokesperson in a statement.

Though an official statement has yet to come from the Chinese military, the state-run Global Times newspaper said the individuals were “India’s intelligence staff who had disguised themselves as hunters,” citing an anonymous source.

The report also claimed the Indians had trespassed the border and entered the Shannan prefecture of Tibet, as the “Indian side often sends staff via this means to gather intelligence of China.”

Beijing detained, warned and “educated” the five people, the report cited the source as saying.

The Asian heavyweights have been locked in a military stand-off amid border disputes in the Ladakh area of the contentious Jammu and Kashmir region since May.

They have been in conflict over numerous regions as China claims sovereignty over the Arunachal Pradesh state which is under the effective control of India.

* Sorvar Alam from Ankara, Turkey contributed to this story.

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