According to a statement by the Indian Armed Forces, released today, June 16, during an “fierce clash” with Chinese troops in the province of Ladakh, an Indian officer and two soldiers were killed.
“A brutal clash with the victims occurred on Tuesday night. The irretrievable losses of the Indian side include an officer and two soldiers, ” the statement said.
Soon after, the Indian army updated its message, indicating that “there were casualties on both sides.” However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that Beijing “is not aware of the escalation at the border,” which led to casualties from the Indian side, reports Reuters.
At the same time, the Chinese authorities urged Delhi to “not take unilateral actions and not create trouble.”
“This incident is the first clash between two Asian giants since 1975 in which the military died,” the Associated Press said.
Thousands of Chinese and Indian troops have been put on high alert at three or four sections of the disputed border for several weeks now. China denies that its forces crossed the so-called Line of Actual Control, and insists that a stable situation remains in the Galvan River and Lake Pangong Tso in the Indian region of Ladakh.
According to Indian and foreign military experts, one of the possible sources of current border tensions is the fact that India is building a road near the Galvan River Valley to narrow the gap with China’s more developed road network, created several years ago. Beijing, in turn, opposes any Indian construction in the area, calling it disputed territory.
According to media reports, both sides pulled artillery and other heavy equipment into the region. India has also begun construction of a runway in the area of the main highway of neighboring Kashmir – another controversial region, but already between India and Pakistan, which is supported by China.
The Indian Armed Forces command said on May 10 that several Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in a clash on the border of the two countries in a mountainous area. It was indicated that during the border incident, servicemen engaged in hand-to-hand combat and stoned each other with stones. An emergency between two nuclear-weapon states took place on a strategically important mountain pass near Tibet. According to the press service of the Indian Armed Forces, about 150 troops were involved in a brawl, several dozen were slightly injured.
The border dispute and related territorial conflict has been going on since 1962, when a fierce war broke out in the region of the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. In 2017, a confrontation between India and China took place in Doklam in the Bhutanese mountain region of Doklam after the Indian army sent troops to prevent Beijing from building a road there.
As a result of negotiations between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Wuhan, China, relations between the two Asian giants improved in 2018. However, China still claims to have an area of about 90 thousand square kilometers, which is under Indian control.