India apprehends Chinese soldier at disputed border region

New Delhi says PLA soldier was captured in the remote mountainous area amid a military standoff.

The high-altitude confrontation between the Asian giants began in early May with a deadly brawl [Farooq Khan/EPA]

The Indian army has captured a Chinese soldier in the remote Ladakh region where the two countries are locked in a months-long military standoff along their disputed mountainous border.

It was the second detention on the high-altitude border since the pitched battles in June in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed.

An army statement on Saturday said the Chinese soldier was taken into custody on Friday for transgressing into the Indian side in an area south of Pangong Tso lake.

“The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] soldier is being dealt with as per laid down procedures and circumstances under which he had crossed the LAC [Line of Actual Control],’’ the statement said.

There was no immediate confirmation or comment from China.

A high-altitude standoff between the Asian giants began in early May with a fierce brawl and exploded into hand-to-hand combat with clubs, stones and fists on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. China is believed to also have had casualties, but has not given any details.

Both sides have since poured tens of thousands of troops and heavy weaponry into the tension zone in the Ladakh region, currently in the grip of freezing winter temperatures.

India and China have disputed their frontier for seven decades and fought a brief war in 1962. The two sides blame each other for the current standoff.

The neighbours have held several rounds of disengagement talks but failed to ease the military buildup.

India’s foreign ministry said on Friday the two sides have agreed to a new round of talks between senior commanders.

“In the meantime, both sides have maintained communication at the ground level to avoid any misunderstandings and misjudgements,” it said in a statement.

Indian and Chinese soldiers often lose their way in the disputed Himalayan region.

In October, India detained another Chinese soldier in Ladakh’s Demchok area, but he was freed after he was found to have strayed across the de facto border.

In September, China released five Indian nationals who went missing from the eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh amid simmering tensions between the two countries. The five men were hunters.

Source: AP