Indian and Chinese troops in deadly border clash
Three Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash at the Chinese border, the Indian army said on Tuesday after tensions had increased for weeks and thousands of additional troops had been deployed by both sides.
There are regular fights between the two nuclear-armed giants over their controversial 3,500 km limit, but no one has been killed for decades.
The Indian army said, however, that Monday's incident on the Himalayan border between China's Tibet and the Indian region of Ladakh had "made sacrifices" on both sides, although Beijing did not mention any - and Delhi blamed directly.
"Yesterday (Monday) there was a violent duel with victims on both sides. The loss of life on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers," said an Indian army spokesman in a statement.
"Senior military officials from both sides are currently meeting on the ground to mitigate the situation."
An Indian army officer in the region told AFP that no shots were fired in the incident on steep, rocky terrain in the strategically important Galwan Valley.
"It was violent hand-to-hand brawls," said the official on condition of anonymity.
- "Attack on Chinese Personnel" -
Beijing confirmed a clash on Tuesday, but did not mention victims. She accused Indian soldiers of entering Chinese territory and "attacking Chinese personnel".
State Department spokesman Zhao Lijian said Indian troops "crossed the border twice ... provoked and attacked Chinese personnel, causing serious physical confrontation between the border forces on both sides."
"We solemnly call on India once again to adopt the appropriate stance and hold back its front line forces," he said.
On May 9, several Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in a fist and stone thrown clash at Naku La in Sikkim, India, which borders Bhutan, Nepal and China.
However, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said only last week that "positive consensus" had been reached after "effective communication" through diplomatic and military channels.
In a later statement, the Indian State Department said the two sides would "continue military and diplomatic commitments to resolve the situation and ensure peace and quiet in the border areas."
Indian sources and news reports, however, indicated that Chinese troops remained in parts of the Galwan Valley and the northern shore of Pangong Tso Lake, which it had occupied in recent weeks.
- prickly relationships -
India and China have never agreed on how long their "line of effective control" will last, and each side uses different border proposals that Britain made to China in the 19th century to support their claims.
India gives a number of 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles). China doesn't give a number, but state media say the border should only be 2,000 km if China's claims in Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, and other regions are taken into account.
Relations between China and India have long been difficult.
They waged a brief war in 1962 in which China took over India's territory. Further fatal clashes followed in 1967, but the last shot fired with anger was in 1975.
There was a 72-day showdown in 2017 after Chinese troops moved to the controversial Doklam plateau on the border between China, India and Bhutan.
Afterwards, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese leader Xi Jinping tried to ease tensions at the summits.
Alice Wells, the senior official at the U.S. Department of State for South Asia, said last month that China wanted to upset regional balance and needed to be "resisted."
US President Donald Trump also offered to mediate, but both countries avoided the offer.
Burs-Stu / Fuchs
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