NEW DELHI – At least twenty Indian army personnel, including a commanding officer of Colonel rank, have been killed in a violent face-off with Chinese soldiers at Galwan Valley in Ladakh.
Indian army initially said three of its soldiers have been killed.
The incident on Monday night followed weeks of rising tensions and the deployment of thousands of extra troops from both sides in the Himalayan region.
Names of the 20 Indian Army personnel who lost their lives in the "violent face-off" with China in Galwan Valley, Ladakh. pic.twitter.com/GD5HFVr6U8
— ANI (@ANI) June 17, 2020
“During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers,” the Indian army spokesman said in a statement.
“Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation,” said the statement.
The Indian Congress has termed the incident as “shocking” and “unacceptable”, and asked Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to confirm the development.
On the other hand, the Chinese military also suffered casualties in the clash, the editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times newspaper said on Tuesday. It was the first such confrontation between the two Asian giants since 1975 in which soldiers have died.
“Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash,” Hu Xijin said in a tweet, without giving further details.
Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash. I want to tell the Indian side, don’t be arrogant and misread China’s restraint as being weak. China doesn’t want to have a clash with India, but we don’t fear it.
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) June 16, 2020
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a regular press briefing in Beijing today said that Indian troops seriously violated the consensus and twice crossed the border line for illegal activities.
They provoked and attacked Chinese personnel which led to serious physical conflict between the two sides, the spokesman said, adding that China has lodged strong protest and representation with the India side.
Reports say senior military officials of the two sides are holding a meeting in Galwan Valley to defuse tensions.
The China-India border dispute covers nearly 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) of frontier that the two countries call the Line of Actual Control. They fought a war in 1962 that spilled into Ladakh. The two sides have been trying since the early 1990s to settle their dispute without success.
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.
China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of territory under New Delhi’s control.