SRINAGAR, India—The Indian army said it apprehended a Chinese soldier Monday in the remote Ladakh region, where the two countries are locked in a months-long military standoff along their disputed mountain border.
The soldier, Cpl. Wang Ya Long from China’s People’s Liberation Army, was apprehended inside Indian-controlled Ladakh’s Demchok area and was to be released soon, the army said in a statement.
It said the soldier “had strayed” across the de facto border along the eastern section of what’s known as the Line of Actual Control, a loose demarcation separating Indian- and Chinese-controlled areas.
“As per established protocols, he will be returned back to Chinese officials at the Chushul–Moldo meeting point after completion of formalities,” the statement said.
China did not immediately comment on the soldier’s apprehension.
The 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.
China detained at least 10 Indian soldiers, including four officers, following the deadly brawl. They were returned three days later after intense military and diplomatic negotiations.
The Indian army statement Monday said the Indian side had received an inquiry from China’s military “about the whereabouts of the missing soldier.”
The soldier “has been provided medical assistance including oxygen, food and warm clothes to protect him from the vagaries of extreme altitude and harsh climatic conditions,” the statement said.
India and China have each stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks, and fighter jets and are bracing for a harsh winter in the cold-desert region, where temperatures can fall to minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 Fahrenheit).
The nuclear-armed neighbors have accused each other of crossing into each other’s territory and of firing shots for the first time in 45 years.
The sides have held several rounds of talks by military, diplomatic, and political officials, including negotiations between their foreign ministers and defense ministers in Moscow last month. Although the standoff has persisted, the talks seem to have calmed the situation along the border, with no new military aggression reported for over a month now.
The fiercely contested Line of Actual Control separates Chinese-held and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China’s communist party claims in its entirety. It is broken in parts where the Himalayan nations of Nepal and Bhutan border China.
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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