Indian and Chinese military forces clashed Monday night on the India-China border leading to at least three deaths in the first deadly border confrontation between the two nations in four decades, according to CNN.
The violent skirmish took place in the long-disputed Aksai Chin-Ladakh region on the northern tip of India where “de-escalation” was taking place, according to CNN. Three Indian soldiers including an officer were killed, but Chinese media reported Chinese soldiers were also among the dead.
“During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties,” Indian military officials said in a statement to Indian news, according to The New York Times.
The soldiers were reportedly killed in a fight that involved “rocks and wooden clubs,” The Times of India reported. It is believed that they died after being pelted with stones, according to The Times.
“Our forces were resolute in forcing Chinese troops to retreat,” the national general secretary of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party B.L. Santhosh tweeted. “The picture on the Chinese side is yet to emerge. It is still more huge.”
The clashes are believed to have been triggered by the construction of a road by India in the Galwan valley, according to Press Trust of India. The road would enable India to transport soldiers and supplies into the region quickly, the BBC reported.
Several rounds of talks among major generals occurred earlier this month between Indian and Chinese military officials to de-escalate the tensions, according to Press Trust of India.
“We have started from the north, from the area of the Galwan river where a lot of disengagement has taken place. It has been a very fruitful dialogue that we have had,” Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravene said Saturday, according to the Hindustan Times. “Everything is under control,” he said.
A similar dispute between the two nations took place in 2017 over a road being constructed by China in a different region, the BBC reported. The dispute resulted in the construction of a permanent Chinese military complex, according to New Delhi Television.
Border disputes between India and China have occurred dating back to 1959, according to Bloomberg News. A war in 1962 took place after India established new outposts on the India-China border.
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