iNDICA NEWS BUREAU
At least three Indian soldiers, including a commanding officer, were killed in “violent clashes”with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Galwan valley of eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army said in a statement Tuesday.
These are the first reported deaths since 1975 in skirmishes the two armies have had along the more than 2,500 mile border between the two countries.
“During the de-escalation process underway at the Galwan valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties on both sides. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers. Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation,” an Indian Army statement said at 1308 hours Tuesday.
News agency AFP quoted an unnamed Indian Army source as saying that there was no gunfire exchanged and it was “violent hand-to-hand scuffles”.
The officer who was killed was a Colonel, Indian media reported.
There were some reports about Chinese fatalities but there has not been any official confirmation from either side yet, beyond the Indian Army statement.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told the media that Indian soldiers crossed the border twice Monday. Beijing had lodged “strong protests” with Delhi, he said.
“They provoked and attacked the Chinese side, leading to a severe physical brawl,” he said.
“We again solemnly request that India follows the relevant attitude and restrains its frontline troops. Do not cross the border, do not provoke trouble, do not take any unilateral action that would complicate the border situation,” he added.
Last week there were reports in the Indian media that the country’s army had rushed fighting formations to its northern frontiers after China built up its troop formations all across its 2,520-mile border with India.
The two countries held high-level military talks, which were reportedly to be followed by a series of such talks between local-level troop commanders.