Chinese and Indian soldiers killed after fighting with rocks and clubs at a remote border in the Himalayas (Update)

A remote border between China and India has become the scene of skirmishes in the past few weeks. The BBC map above shows the area in dispute. Soldiers on both sides have been forbidden from firing their weapons at one another but that hasn’t stopped them from fighting with their hands, with rocks and, some reports claim, with clubs embedded with nails. Yesterday a confrontation between Chinese and Indian troops resulted in 20 deaths on the Indian side.


Twenty Indian Army troops were killed and dozens captured by Chinese soldiers late Monday in a clash along the disputed India-China border, Indian officials said, raising tensions between the world’s two most populous nations.

Preliminary reports on Tuesday indicated that the soldiers had not been shot, but had been killed in a brawl involving rocks and wooden clubs that was similar to fights that broke out last month along the border and seriously injured several soldiers on both sides.

It was the first time in decades that soldiers were killed in a skirmish along the border, which traverses freezing terrain high in the Himalayas, military experts said. It was not immediately clear how India would respond to China, which has a much more powerful military.

An Indian military spokesman said that three Indian troops were killed during the fighting and 17 others later succumbed to injuries. A senior Indian Army officer said that more than 20 Indian soldiers had also been captured and many might still be in Chinese custody.

Here are photos of the three Indian soldiers, including one officer, killed in the initial battle.


There are believed to have been a number of casualties on the Chinese side as well though China hasn’t revealed those numbers. According to this site, “Indian intercepts” revealed China suffered 43 casualties, some with serious injuries and some killed. All of this took place yesterday during what was termed a “deescalation process” after similar fights broke out last month:

In May, an enormous brawl broke out between Chinese and Indian soldiers stationed at camps high in the Himalayas.

Beijing’s reaction was swift and forceful.

Chinese troops confronted Indian soldiers at several other remote border points in the mountains, some more than 1,000 miles apart. Since then, both armies have rushed in thousands of reinforcements. Indian analysts say that China has beefed up its forces with dump trucks, excavators, troop carriers, artillery and armored vehicles and that China is now occupying Indian territory…

The spark for the recent tensions seems to have been a road to a remote air force base that the Indian Army is building through mountain passes in the Galwan Valley, which military analysts say is fully within Indian territory. Experts say that the Chinese are determined to frustrate India’s efforts to upgrade its military positions.

Chinese state media outlet the Global Times published an editorial today about the situation which doesn’t deny that Chinese soldiers became involved in the conflict while trying to prevent India from upgrading its infrastructure in the region:


This has been the most serious clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers so far. Indian media reported this is the first time since 1975 that soldiers died in border conflicts between the two countries.

India has been building extensive infrastructure facilities along the border, and forcibly built part of the facilities in the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control regardless of bilateral divergences over the border disputes. The two sides went into repeated physical clashes as Chinese soldiers tried to stop their Indian counterparts.

There is a video circulating that shows Chinese and Indian soldiers fighting in this same area but it appears that video is from a skirmish that happened in 2017. So far there doesn’t appear to be any video of yesterday’s conflict. Here’s a report from the South China Morning Post on the incident:

Update: This paper is reporting the skirmish involved 900 troops on each side.

More than 900 troops on each side were involved in a physical clash, which started Monday night, lasted several hours—in three phases—and ended on early hours of Tuesday.  Most of the deaths have occurred as soldiers fell-off cliffs during a physical fight in the narrow Galwan valley into the river at an altitude of 15,000 feet. Some died due to hypothermia and other due to injuries.

Stones, Steel poles, bamboo poles with nails embed on them, were used by the Chinese, to attack the Indian troops. The Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) of China, have also suffered fatal casualties. There is no number to their casualties. Indian Army categorically said “no bullets were fired in clash”. The casualty would have been manifold had bullets been fired


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