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India
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India-China clash: Modi says soldiers' deaths 'will not be in vain'

  • India-China clash: Modi says soldiers' deaths 'will not be in vain'
    India's prime minister has said the deaths of at least 20 soldiers in a fight with Chinese troops in a disputed Himalayan border area "will not be in vain". India-China clash: Modi says soldiers' deaths 'will not be in vain'
Region:
India
Category:
Politics
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India's prime minister has said the deaths of at least 20 soldiers in a fight with Chinese troops in a disputed Himalayan border area "will not be in vain".

Narendra Modi said India would be "proud that our soldiers died fighting the Chinese" in the clash in the Ladakh region on Monday.

Soldiers reportedly brawled with sticks, bats and bamboo sticks studded with nails. No shots were fired.

Both sides blamed each other.

It is the first deadly clash between the two sides in the border area, in the disputed Kashmir region, in at least 45 years.

India's army said China also suffered casualties but Beijing has given no details.

The Indian statement notes that injured soldiers were "exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain".

As each side traded accusations, India said China had tried to "unilaterally change the status quo". Beijing accused Indian troops of "attacking Chinese personnel".

The two armies later held talks to try to defuse tensions.

The fighting occurred in the precipitous, rocky terrain of the strategically important Galwan Valley, which lies between China's Tibet and India's Ladakh.

Indian media say soldiers engaged in direct hand-to-hand combat, with some "beaten to death". During the fight, one newspaper reported, others fell or were pushed into a river.

The hand-to-hand combat lasted hours, on steep, jagged terrain, with iron bars, rocks and fists. Neither side carried guns. Most of the soldiers killed in the worst fighting between India and China in 60 years lost their footing or were knocked from the narrow Himalayan ridge, plunging to their deaths.

India has reacted with shock and caution to the loss of at least 20 soldiers on its disputed border with China, with images of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, burned in Indian cities.

In his first public comments on the dispute, prime minister Narendra Modi led a two-minute silence for the killed soldiers and said India would “defend every stone, every inch of its territory.”

“I would like to assure the nation that the sacrifice of our jawans [troops] will not be in vain,” said Modi, speaking at a televised meeting of India’s chief ministers. “For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country is the most important.”

A day after reports of the “violent face-off” in the western Himalayas emerged, Indian news outlets began naming some of the dead and a clearer picture started to build of what transpired on Monday night on the high, steep ridge lines above the fast-flowing Galwan River.