20 Indian troops killed in Ladakh border clash
Published: 10:26 17 June 2020 Updated: 12:04 17 June 2020
Ladakh border. Photo: Collected
At least 20 Indian Army personnel, including a colonel, were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night, India's news agency ANI reported citing a government source.
The Indian Army initially said three of its soldiers had been killed, adding that both sides suffered casualties. But later on Tuesday, officials said a number of critically injured soldiers had died of their wounds.
In a statement, the Indian army said that 17 "critically injured" Indian troops succumbed to their wounds, in addition to an officer and two soldiers who had died earlier. The troops died "in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain ... taking the total that were killed in action to 20", the statement said.
Meanwhile, China did not confirm any casualties but accused India in turn of crossing the border onto the Chinese side.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said India had crossed the border twice on Monday, "provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides", AFP news agency reported.
Both sides insist no bullet has been fired in four decades, and the Indian army said on Tuesday that "no shots were fired" in this latest skirmish.
How a clash that did not involve an exchange of fire could prove so lethal is unclear. There are reports that it was fought with rocks and clubs. Local media outlets reported that the Indian soldiers had been "beaten to death".
The incident follows rising tensions and is the first deadly clash in the border area in at least 45 years.
Tensions flare on a fairly regular basis between the two regional powers over their 3,500-kilometre (2,200-mile) frontier, which has never been properly demarcated.
Thousands of troops from the two nuclear-armed neighbours, backed by armoured trucks and artillery, have been involved in the latest face-off since May in the Ladakh region, bordering Tibet.
Indian officials say Chinese soldiers crossed the boundary at three different points, erecting tents and guard posts and ignoring verbal warnings to leave. That triggered shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights.
Army officers and diplomats have held a series of meetings to try to end the impasse, with no breakthrough. - BBC, Aljazeera
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