NEW DELHI: The Indian army said on Tuesday that 20 of its soldiers were killed in clashes with Chinese troops at a disputed border site, in a major escalation of a weeks-long standoff in the western Himalayas.
In a statement, the army said that 17 critically injured Indian troops succumbed to their wounds, in addition to an officer and two soldiers who had died earlier.
Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged in the areas where the clashes took place, the statement added.
The latest incident took place in the Galwan Valley in the mountainous region of Ladakh, the Indian army said in a statement.
Senior military officials from both sides were meeting to defuse the situation, it claimed.
“Indian troops have broken their promises and again crossed the Line of Actual Control [LAC] in the Galwan Valley region on Monday evening and purposely launched provocative attacks, leading to severe clashes and casualties,” said Chinese People's Liberation Army Western Theater Command spokesman Col. Zhang Shuili, according to the Global Times newspaper.
“Stop all provocative actions, meet the Chinese side halfway and come back to the right path of solving disputes through talks,” Zhang said.
“China always owns sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region, and the Indian border defense troops are inconsistent with their words and seriously violated the agreements both countries have reached, the consensus made during the army commander-level talks and harmed the relations of the two militaries and the feelings of the two countries' peoples,” he added.
On Saturday, top Chinese and Indian military officials held high-level talks on to resolve the latest border standoff between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
The talks were held at the Maldo border outpost on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between the two countries.
According to the Indian military, Lt Gen. Harinder Singh, commander of India’s 14 Corps, led New Delhi’s delegation, while the Chinese team was led by Major Gen Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang Military Region.
Border skirmishes between the two sides started on May 5 at the Galwan valley in Ladakh, followed by Nakula pass in India’s northeastern Sikkim region three days later.
China claims territory in India’s northeast, while New Delhi accuses Beijing of occupying its territory in the Aksai Chin plateau in the Himalayas, including part of the Ladakh region.
The two countries even fought a war over the hilly state of Arunachal Pradesh in 1962, called the Sino-Indian War.
In 2017, the two armies were locked in a 73-day standoff in the disputed Doklam plateau near Sikkim, over the construction of a road by the Chinese.
The Asian giants have rival claims to vast swathes of territory along their 3,500 km (2,173 mile) Himalayan border, but the disputes have remained largely peaceful since a border war in 1962.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ