Three Indian army personnel, including a commanding officer, have been killed in a “violent face-off” with Chinese soldiers in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, an Indian army spokesman has said.
The incident on Monday night follows weeks of rising tensions and the deployment of thousands of extra troops from both sides in the region. “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.
The official statement said: “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. Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation.”
Beijing has accused India of crossing the border, ‘attacking Chinese personnel’, reported news agency Agence France Presse. China’s Foreign Ministry said it called on India to not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble, sources said.
Indian and Chinese soldiers have been locked in a standoff for weeks at Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh. A significant number of Chinese army personnel even transgressed into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control or the de-facto border in several areas including Pangong Tso.
After weeks of face-off including an incident in which patrolling soldiers from the two sides came to blows on the banks of Pangong Lake, resulting in injuries, friction eased following talks. Indian and Chinese military commanders had been in talks in Galwan Valley area and Hot Springs.
The Chinese Army had earlier pulled back its troops from the Galwan valley, PP-15 and Hot Springs in Eastern Ladakh area. The Indian side also brought back some of its troops and vehicles from these areas.
China has been reportedly upset about the Indian construction of roads and air strips in the area.
Meanwhile, the developments in the eastern Ladakh sector were discussed in a meeting between defence minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, the three service chiefs and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar today, news agency reported.
A large number of Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in Galwan Valley for the last five weeks. The incident comes days after Indian Army Chief Gen MM Naravane said both sides have begun disengaging from Galwan Valley.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Indian troops crossed the border line twice on Monday, “provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides”.
Last week, China said it has reached a “positive consensus” with India over resolving tensions at the border between the two countries through diplomatic and military channels.