India said Tuesday that 20 of its soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese troops along the disputed border of the two nuclear-armed nations, the first military casualties between the two countries in 45 years.
The Indian Army said a "violent faceoff" occurred in Galwan Valley in the western Himalayas on Monday night and that there were ”casualties on both sides."
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman did not provide information about any casualties among Chinese troops. But he accused Indian troops of carrying out "provocative attacks" on its troops along the border, sparking "serious physical conflicts.”
The neighboring countries have been engaged in a standoff in the valley for weeks with each accusing the other of trespassing into their territory.
The Indian army said one of its officers was among those killed and that “senior military officials from both countries were meeting “to defuse the situation.”
Clashes have erupted over the years along the disputed 3,500 kilometer-long border but skirmishes have intensified in recent weeks in the Galwan Valley, where India is constructing a strategic road linking the region to an airstrip near China.
The two countries fought a brief border war in 1962 and have been trying to settle their border dispute since the early 1990s.