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India soldiers killed in clash with Chinese forces

Three Indian soldiers have been killed in a clash with Chinese forces in Ladakh in the disputed Kashmir region.

The Indian army said "senior military officials of the two sides are meeting to defuse the situation", adding that both sides suffered casualties.

China responded by calling on India not to take unilateral actions or stir up trouble, the Reuters agency reported.

China has also accused India of crossing the border and attacking Chinese soldiers, the AFP agency said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was quoted as saying that India had crossed the border, "provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides".

Beijing has not announced any Chinese casualties. The country's Global Times newspaper reported that "solemn representations" had been made with India over the incident.

The clash comes amid rising tensions between the two countries. India has accused China of sending thousands of troops into Ladakh's Galwan valley.

The deaths are believed to be the first in decades in a confrontation between the two powers. They have fought only one war so far, in 1962, when India suffered a humiliating defeat.

India accuses China of occupying 38,000 sq km of its territory. Several rounds of talks in the last three decades have failed to resolve the boundary disputes.

In May, dozens of Indian and Chinese soldiers exchanged physical blows in a clash on the border in the northeastern state of Sikkim. And in 2017, the two countries clashed in the region after China tried to extend a border road through a disputed plateau.

Their armies - two of the world's largest - come face to face at many points. The two sides are separated by the poorly demarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC). Rivers, lakes, and snowcaps mean the line can shift, provoking confrontation.

Both sides insist no bullet has been fired in four decades, and the Indian army insisted again on Tuesday that "no shots were fired". Local media outlets reported that the Indian soldiers were "beaten to death" but there was no confirmation from the military.

There are several reasons why tensions are rising now - but competing strategic goals lie at the root, and both sides blame each other.

India has built a new road in what experts say is the most remote and vulnerable area along the LAC in Ladakh. And India's decision to ramp up infrastructure seems to have infuriated Beijing.

The road could boost Delhi's capability to move men and material rapidly in case of a conflict.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-53061476

 

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