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One of nine Terrex armoured vehicles, which belong to Singapore, waits to be loaded onto a truck at a cargo terminal in Hong Kong, China January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip


SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's defence minister said on Friday that the Singaporean armoured vehicles seized by Hong Kong in November, on their way home from military exercises in Taiwan, have left Hong Kong port and were headed back to Singapore.

Hong Kong had said on Tuesday it would release the nine Singaporean armoured vehicles, easing tensions between China and Singapore.

"Our Terrexes left Hong Kong port this morning at 0415hrs. Next stop, home," Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post.

Hong Kong's Cable Television carried footage of the carriers being transported on trucks away from the facility where they were being held, with armed police standing by.

Asked whether the Singapore-bound containers had been released and shipped out, Hong Kong's Customs and Excise Department said: "The batch of controlled items were reclaimed by the relevant shipping company from Customs warehouse in Tuen Mun early this (January 27) morning".

After the nine troop carriers had been seized in November, Beijing, which regained sovereignty over the former British colony of Hong Kong in 1997, warned countries against maintaining military ties with Taiwan, which it views as a wayward province.

The seizure came amid signs of tension between China and Singapore, which has deepened its security relationship with the United States over the last year and remains concerned over China's assertive territorial stance in the South China Sea.

(Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Additional reporting by James Pomfret and Greg Turode in HONG KONG; Editing by Michael Perry)