China releases 10 Indian soldiers taken during border clash: Reports
China has claimed it had not seized any Indian soldiers. On Friday evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold an all-party meeting in New Delhi to discuss the crisis on the border with China.
China has returned 10 Indian soldiers captured during a deadly border clash earlier this week, media reports said citing Indian government sources on Friday, as two Asian nuclear powers sought to de-escalate tensions on their disputed border in the western Himalayas.
The Indian Army did not comment on the release, which according to one source took place on Thursday evening, instead referring to a government statement that said all of its soldiers were accounted for, Reuters reported.
Twenty Indian soldiers, including an officer were killed in vicious hand-to-hand combat on Monday night in the Galwan Valley, according to the government, making it the deadliest clash on the India-China border in more than five decades.
India said the Chinese side also suffered casualties too, but the Chinese government has not disclosed any. Army sources say that least 45 Chinese soldiers have been killed or injured.
China, meanwhile, on Friday claimed it had not seized any Indian soldiers. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the claim at a daily press briefing in response to questions, according to state-run CGTN.
Tensions remain high, despite the two governments agreeing they would seek to de-escalate the confrontation. And a day after the funerals of some of the soldiers in their hometowns, the public mood was hardening in India, with growing calls for revenge and a boycott of Chinese-made goods. Since the clash, military officials have held talks.
Another Indian government source, who is aware of the ground situation, was quoted by Reuters as saying: "The situation remains as it was, there is no disengagement, but there is also no further build up of forces."
With India in shock over the loss its soldiers lives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces one of the most difficult foreign policy challenges since he came to power in 2014.
On Friday evening, he will hold an all-party meeting in New Delhi to discuss the crisis on the border with China.
US OFFERS CONDOLENCES
The United States offered condolences to India on Friday over the deaths its soldiers. "We extend our deepest condolences to the people of India for the lives lost as a result of the recent confrontation with China," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a message posted on Twitter. "We will remember the soldiers' families, loved ones, and communities as they grieve."
We extend our deepest condolences to the people of India for the lives lost as a result of the recent confrontation with China. We will remember the soldiers' families, loved ones, and communities as they grieve.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 19, 2020
India has accused the Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley of acting in a premeditated manner, attacking Indian soldiers with iron rods and batons studded with nails.
Satellite images suggest that in the days leading up to the clash, China brought in heavy machinery, cut a trail into the mountainside and may have even dammed a river. The images taken a day after the clash show an increase in activity from a week earlier.