News Desk l
At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in a disputed Himalayan border area, Indian officials say.
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.
But later on Tuesday, officials said a number of critically injured soldiers had died of their wounds.
China did not confirm any casualties, but accused India in turn of crossing the border onto the Chinese side.
Tensions between India and China have been mounting owing to a border dispute in the eastern Ladakh region as both armies from both the countries have moved heavy weaponry and equipment to their base camps near the disputed territory.
Indian military sources have been quoted in the Indian media saying China has been pushing in artillery, infantry combat vehicles and heavy military equipment in its rear bases near the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
An earlier report had stated that the Indian Army is doing the same and deploying additional troops along with heavy machinery at the border.
India claims Chinese troops aggravated tensions by moving into the Pangong Tso and Galwan Valley areas earlier this month. India said the Chinese Army has bolstered its presence in Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie areas as well where disputes are known to take place between the two sides.
On May 6, the troops from both sides clashed and hurled stones at each other. There have been long-running border tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours, with a bitter war fought over India´s northeastern-most state of Arunachal Pradesh in 1962.
“Aggressive behaviour by the two sides resulted in minor injuries to troops. It was stone-throwing and arguments that ended in a fistfight,” Indian Army Eastern Command spokesman Mandeep Hooda had told AFP on May 10.
The “stand-off” at Naku La sector near the 15,000-feet (4,572-metre) Nathu La crossing in the northeastern state of Sikkim — which borders Bhutan, Nepal and China — was later resolved after “dialogue and interaction” at a local level, Hooda had revealed.
“Temporary and short duration face-offs between border-guarding troops do occur as boundaries are not resolved,” he had said.