Dozens of troops killed by 'iron rods and stones' in China-India border clashes
World News

Dozens of troops killed by 'iron rods and stones' in China-India border clashes

India’s army has claimed at least 20 of its soldiers have been killed in clashes with Chinese troops at a disputed border site in the western Himalayas.

China’s foreign ministry confirmed there had been a “violent physical confrontation” on Monday in the border area, with local news agency reports stating at least 43 soldiers were killed.

Indian troops have been accused by their Chinese counterparts of carrying out “provocative attacks” leading to “serious physical conflicts” in a disputed border area.

The standoff took place in the Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh.

An Indian government source said the troops had fought with iron rods and stones and no shots had been fired.

The deaths were the first since the last major border clash in 1967 between the nuclear-armed neighbours which have been unable to settle the dispute along their lengthy frontier.

The two nuclear powers are the world’s two most populous countries, representing about 37% of the planet’s population.

China and India have traded accusations over who was to blame for Monday’s clashes in the snow deserts of Ladakh, which came after military commanders held meetings to resolve the situation.

Since early May, hundreds of soldiers have fronted up against each other at three locations, each side accusing the other of trespassing.

On Monday night, a group of soldiers came to blows in the Galwan Valley, the Indian army said in a statement, adding that the two sides had now disengaged.

The two sides had been discussing ways to de-escalate but at some point, an Indian government source said, China’s People’s Liberation Army had turned on a group of Indian soldiers which included an officer.

“They attacked with iron rods, the commanding officer was grievously injured and fell, and when that happened, more soldiers swarmed to the area and attacked with stones,” said the source, who had been briefed on the matter.

The Chinese side brought in reinforcements and the brawl went on for a couple of hours, the source said.

“Both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side,” Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said in a statement.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said there had been a serious violation of a consensus reached by the two countries.

“What’s shocking is that on June 15, the Indian side severely violated our consensus and twice crossed the border line and provoked and attacked the Chinese forces, causing a violent physical confrontation between the two border forces,” Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing.

India and China fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962 and distrust has occasionally led to flare-ups ever since.

Border guards have had skirmishes and fist fights when patrols have confronted each other, but there has been no loss of life from clashes at the border since 1967.

“This is extremely, extremely serious, this is going to vitiate whatever dialogue was going on,” former Indian army commander D. S. Hooda said.

Military experts say one reason for the face-off is that India has been building roads and airfields to improve connectivity and narrow the gap with China’s far superior infrastructure.

At Galwan, India completed a road leading to an airfield last October. China has asked India to stop all construction.

India says it is operating on its side of the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border.


Pat Reaves
Pat Reaves writes for our World News section. Having spent his youth traveling from one country to another, Pat has incurred an education that is truly international in culture, academia, and language. His quick thinking and spontaneity has landed him in the sector where stories happen without any warning. He is an extremely patient and nurturing writer who lets a story take its course without interference and prejudice.

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