Shomporko Desk: SRINAGAR, India – At least three Indian soldiers, including a senior armed force official, were killed in a confrontation with Chinese soldiers along their disputed border high in the Himalayas where a huge number of troopers on the two sides have been going head to head for longer than a month, the Indian armed force said Tuesday.
The occurrence – in which neither one of the sides discharged any shots, as indicated by Indian authorities – is the first deadly confrontation between the two Asian giants since 1975.
The Indian armed force said in an explanation that a “vicious faceoff” occurred in Galwan Valley in the Ladakh area on Monday night, “with setbacks on the two sides.”
“The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers,” the statement said. “Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation.”
China, for its part, accused Indian forces along the border of carrying out “provocative attacks” on its troops, leading to “serious physical conflicts” between the sides.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian gave no details on any casualties on the Chinese side but said that China had strongly protested the incident while still being committed to maintaining “peace and tranquillity” along the disputed and heavily militarized border.
“But what is shocking is that on June 15, the Indian troops seriously violated the consensus of the two sides, crossed the border illegally twice and carried out provocative attacks on Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical conflicts between the two border forces,” Zhao said.
Thousands of soldiers from the two countries, backed by armoured trucks and artillery, have been facing off just a few hundred meters (yards) apart for more than a month in the Ladakh region near Tibet. Army officers and diplomats have held a series of meetings to try to end the impasse, with no breakthrough.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t comment on the clash in a televised meeting Tuesday with state officials.
The tense standoff started in early May when Indian officials said that Chinese soldiers crossed the boundary in Ladakh at three different points, erecting tents and guard posts and ignoring verbal warnings to leave. That triggered shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights, much of it replayed on television news channels and social media.
China has sought to downplay the confrontation while saying the two sides were communicating through both their front-line military units and their respective embassies to resolve issues.
The disputed border covers nearly 3,500 kilometres (2,175 miles) of the frontier that the two countries call the Line of Actual Control.
Though skirmishes aren’t new along the frontier, the standoff at Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, where India is building a strategic road connecting the region to an airstrip close to China, has escalated in recent weeks.