Four Indian soldiers are in critical condition after the violent confrontation with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh on Monday evening, the ANI news agency quoted sources as saying. The military confirmed yesterday that 20 soldiers had been killed in the fighting in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh. 43 Chinese soldiers have been killed or seriously injured, ANI news agency said, citing sources based on the interceptions.
An army statement in the morning confirmed the death of a colonel and two jawans and spoke of “victims on both sides”.
But in a later statement, the military added that 17 other seriously injured were “exposed to temperatures below freezing … (and) died of their injuries”.
An Indian army source in the region told AFP that the incident was not a shooting but “violent hand-to-hand fighting”. The soldiers punched and threw stones at each other and Chinese troops allegedly used studded rods and sticks during the fight, which lasted for hours until midnight Monday, reports said.
The Chinese Ministry of Defense confirmed that the incident claimed lives, but did not give details.
India blamed the clashes on “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo”, refuting China’s claims that Indian soldiers had crossed the border.
The deaths were the first since the last major border clash in 1967 between the two countries, and came after military commanders held meetings to resolve the situation.
Since the beginning of May, hundreds of soldiers have clashed at three locations, with each side accusing the other of trespassing.
On Monday evening, a group of soldiers struck in the Galwan Valley, the Indian army said in a statement, adding that the two sides had disengaged.