20 Indian soldiers killed in Ladakh face-off with China

At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh on Tuesday after a ‘violent face-off’ ensued as tensions brew with China near the disputed border, Times of India reported while quoting government sources. UK publication The Telegraph, quoting Indian army sources, reported that four soldiers were currently missing and a further 32 were handed back after being captured. According to earlier reports by Indian media, an officer and two soldiers were among those killed near the Line of Actual Control (LAC). “During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place with casualties. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers. Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation,” an official statement by New Delhi said. China, in response to India, accused Indian troops of crossing the disputed border between the two countries. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said Indian troops crossed the border line twice on Monday, 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 New Delhi,” he said. “We once again solemnly ask the Indian side to follow our consensus, strictly regulate its front-line troops and do not cross the line, do not stir up troubles or make unilateral moves that may complicate matters,” Lijian said. “China and Indian side agreed to resolve the bilateral issues through dialogue to ease the border situation and maintain peace and tranquility in border areas,” he added. According to editor-in-chief of Chinese publication Global Times, the Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley. “Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash. I want to tell the Indian side, don’t be arrogant and misread China’s restraint as being weak. China doesn’t want to have a clash with India, but we don’t fear it,” he tweeted. Retired Indian colonel and journalist Ajai Shukla urged the Indian government to stop lying and come clean about ‘disengagement’ and ‘mutual withdrawal’. “Reports of three soldiers killed in Galwan clash with Chinese. First LAC combat casualties since 1975. Time for the government to come clean and stop lying about disengagement and mutual withdrawal. A national crisis is no time for deception,” he tweeted. On Saturday, top Chinese and Indian military officials held high-level talks to resolve the latest border standoff between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. The talks were held at the Maldo border outpost on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between the two countries. According to the Indian military, Lt Gen Harinder Singh, commander of India’s 14 Corps, led New Delhi’s delegation, while the Chinese team was led by Major Gen Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang Military Region. Reporting from Beijing, Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu said China has denied any responsibility for causing the altercation that resulted in the death of Indian soldiers. Last week, China said it had reached a ‘positive consensus’ with India over resolving the border tensions through diplomatic and military channels. Yu said Lijian on Tuesday accused New Delhi of violating that consensus. “Lijian said on June 15, the Indian side ‘shockingly’ violated this consensus so he is quite clearly pointing fingers at the Indian side,” she said. “China has made it quite clear it will do whatever it can to protect its sovereignty.” In a statement last week, India’s foreign ministry said the two sides would “continue the military and diplomatic engagements to resolve the situation and to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas”. But Indian news reports suggested that India appeared to have effectively ceded to China areas that the People’s Liberation Army occupied in recent weeks, notably parts of the northern side of the Pangong Tso Lake and some of the strategically important Galwan River valley. Tensions between India and China have been mounting owing to a border dispute in the eastern Ladakh region as armies from both the countries have moved heavy weaponry and equipment to their base camps near the disputed territory. Since early May, hundreds of soldiers have faced off against each other at three locations, including along the banks of the Pangong Tso lake, each side accusing the other of trespassing.

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