The Indian army initially said three of its soldiers had been killed, adding that both sides suffered casualties, reported BBC News. But later on Tuesday, officials said a number of critically injured soldiers had died of their wounds.
LADAKH – At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in a disputed Himalayan border area, Indian officials said.
The incident follows rising tensions, and is the first deadly clash in the border area in at least 45 years.
The Indian army initially said three of its soldiers had been killed, adding that both sides suffered casualties, reported BBC News.
But later on Tuesday, officials said a number of critically injured soldiers had died of their wounds.
India’s external affairs ministry accused China of breaking an agreement struck the previous week to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley.
BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins says violence between two armies high up in the Himalayas is very serious, and pressure will grow on the two nuclear powers not to allow a slide into full-scale conflict.
Early on Tuesday the Indian army said three of its soldiers, including an officer, had died in a clash in Ladakh, in the disputed Kashmir region.
Later in the day, it released a statement saying the two sides had disengaged.
It added that “17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty” and died from their injuries, taking the “total that were killed in action to 20”.
China did not confirm any casualties, but accused India in turn of crossing the border onto the Chinese side.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said India had crossed the border twice on Monday, “provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides”, AFP news agency reported.
Both sides insist no bullet has been fired in four decades, and the Indian army said on Tuesday that “no shots were fired” in this latest skirmish.
How a clash that did not involve an exchange of fire could prove so lethal is unclear. There are reports that it was fought with rocks and clubs
Local media outlets reported that the Indian soldiers had been “beaten to death”.