China-India border dispute: 20 Indian soldiers dead
Twenty Indian soldiers have lost their lives in a “violent physical confrontation” with the Chinese army over a disputed border in the western Himalayas.
For weeks, the two superpowers have faced off in the border area, but yesterday’s clash marked the first major violence between the neighbours since 1967.
The world’s two most populous countries have long been unable to settle their disagreement over the delineation of the lengthy frontier.
Since early May, hundreds of troops on both sides have been in a stand-off in the Ladakh desert, which is located east of Kashmir.
In a statement, the Indian army said that the two sides had come to blows last night, with 20 Indian casualties.
China’s foreign ministry made no mention of any fatalities, but the Indian statement referred to casualties on both sides.
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A source told Reuters that the two sides had fought with iron rods and stones, and that no shots had been fired.
Both sides sought to blame the other for the clash, with Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava saying that it could have been avoided if China had followed the border consensus “more scrupulously”.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that India had “severely violated our consensus and twice crossed the border line and provoked and attacked the Chinese forces”.
In 1962 the two nuclear-armed nations fought a month-long war over the border, which has been the site of unrest ever since.
Experts said the reason for the heightened tensions was that India’s development of its infrastructure in the area.
After it completed a road to an airfield last month, Beijing asked India to cease all construction activity.