'Violent Face-Off' Sees Multiple Soldiers Killed on China-India Border

Three Indian soldiers have been reported killed after a clash with Chinese troops along the disputed Himalayan border between the two countries on Monday.

The Indian army announced Tuesday that one officer and two soldiers have been killed in the violence, and claimed there were also casualties on the Chinese side. The Chinese government has not yet confirmed the assertion, though the editor of the state-run Global Times newspaper said on Twitter he believed there were Chinese casualties.

The Indian army said that military officials are now meeting at the site of the fighting to defuse the situation.

The Asian News International agency carried the Indian statement, which said the deaths occurred in a "violent face-off" in the Galwan Valley in the northern state of Ladakh. The fighting broke out during a de-escalation process with the Chinese side following weeks of military activity along the disputed frontier, the statement said.

China and India share a contested border some 2,520 miles long, which winds through the Himalayas and comprises some of the most inhospitable terrain on Earth.

The border is a point of regular dispute, though Monday's clash was the first time in decades that soldiers had been killed. The two nations fought a war over the border disagreement in 1962.

Tensions have risen along the border in recent weeks after India accused China of deploying troops across the Line of Actual Control, a loose demarcation line settled after the 1962 conflict.

Reports indicated that thousands of Chinese soldiers had set up positions at several points on the Indian side of the line and started constructing roads and bridges.

China still claims control of some 35,000 square miles of Indian territory along the mountainous border, and has invested in an extensive infrastructure along the frontier to better supply its remote positions. India has lagged behind, but has recently accelerated its own frontier infrastructure plans to catch up.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing Tuesday that he was unaware of the reports of deaths along the border on Monday, but accused Indian troops of illegal incursions into Chinese territory earlier this month.

Zhao also said Indian soldiers had been provoking Chinese forces in the area and that Beijing had lodged a strong protest with the Indian government.

The New York Times said preliminary reports indicated no shots had been fired in Monday's incident, given that troops on both sides are under strict orders not to open fire on one another.

Rather, Monday's casualties were inflicted via stone throwing and hand-to-hand fighting. Unconfirmed Indian reports said stones and clubs had been used in the deadly clash, echoing previous brawls that have involved as many as 150 troops.

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This file photo shows soldiers from the Indian Army and People's Liberation Army sitting together during joint exercises in Aundh near Pune, India on November 25, 2016. INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty