Three Indian troops were killed during a clash with Chinese elements along the India-China border after weeks of rising tensions, the Indian army said Tuesday.
India said that neither side fired any shots during the incident, which is the first deadly confrontation between the two powers for decades.
“During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties,” said an official statement from India, “The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers.”
The statement added that senior military officials from the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation.
Indian government sources said that a physical fight had broken out between the two sides, with soldiers using batons and throwing stones.
The Chinese government-controlled Global Times newspaper said the Chinese military had also suffered casualties. China has accused India of crossing a disputed border between the two countries.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said Indian troops had twice crossed the frontier on Monday. He said India was guilty of “provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides.”
Beijing has lodged “strong protests and solemn representations” to Delhi, Zhao said, but did not make reference to fatalities. India, however, noted in its Tuesday statement that there had been casualties “on both sides”.
Over the past few weeks, Chinese and Indian troops have been locked in aggressive posturing at multiple locations along the two nations’ de facto border, known as Line of Actual Control (LAC). The manoeuvring has raised tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.