India, China troops in high-altitude clash
SRINAGAR, IndiaIndian and Chinese soldiers yelled and hurled stones at one another in the high Himalayas in Indian-controlled Kashmir, Indian officials said Aug. 16 after the altercation that escalates tensions between two nations already engaged in a lengthy border standoff elsewhere.
Chinese troops threw stones at Indian soldiers near Pangong Lake, a major tourist attraction in the picturesque mountain region of Ladakh on Aug. 15, an Indian defence official said.
He said Chinese soldiers had twice tried to enter the Indian territory but had been pushed back. The incident occurred as the nations are locked in a tense standoff in another border region.
“There was a minor incident. There was some stone pelting from the Chinese side but the situation was quickly brought under control,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity.
An Indian intelligence officer told the Associated Press the confrontation occurred after Indian soldiers intercepted a Chinese patrol that veered into Indian-held territory after apparently it lost its way due to bad weather.
The officer said soon the soldiers began shouting at each other and later threw stones. He said some soldiers from both sides received minor injuries.
After nearly 30 minutes of facing off, the two sides retreated to their positions, he said.
An Indian military officer said the skirmish was brief but violent and for the first time stones were used.
China’s Foreign Ministry on Aug. 16 urged India to protect the peace and stability of the border region.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she did not know the details of the most recent incident.
“But what I can tell you is that Chinese border forces have consistently and always dedicated themselves to protecting peace and tranquillity on the China-India border region and we have always patrolled on the Chinese side of the line of control,” Hua told a daily news briefing.
“We urge the Indian side to scrupulously abide by relevant agreements, protocols and rules between the two countries and earnestly respect the 1959 line of control and earnestly protect the peace and stability of the border region.”
Soldiers from the two countries are already locked in a bitter but non-violent standoff in Doklam, an area disputed between China and India's ally Bhutan, where New Delhi sent its soldiers in June to stop China from constructing a strategic road.
China demands that Indian troops withdraw unilaterally from the Doklam standoff before any talks can be held, while New Delhi says each side should stand down. China and India fought a border war in 1962 and much of their frontier remains unsettled despite several rounds of official-level talks. China says the line of control was set in 1959 but India has disputed that.
The two sides have frequently accused each other of territorial intrusions, but clashes are rare.
The website of New Delhi-based English weekly India Today quoted a report by the Indian military intelligence which said the use of stones was unprecedented and appeared intended to heighten tension without using lethal weapons. The report said the worst that has happened earlier was an isolated slap or pushing between soldiers from the two sides.
India's worries over Chinese repeated border crossings into Kashmir's Ladakh region has seen massive Indian army built up in the cold desert in recent years.
The disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir is divided between nuclear-armed India, Pakistan and China. The part held by China is contiguous to Tibet.