İrem UZUN -TDO- India and China accused each other on Tuesday of firing warning shots during a confrontation the day before at their disputed border in a marked escalation of tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. It was the first time in decades that both sides said shots were fired at the frontier, where long-standing, mutual protocols prohibit the use of firearms.
Beijing's defense ministry accused India of "severe military provocation", saying soldiers crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western border region on Monday and "opened fire to threaten the Chinese border defense patrol officers". New Delhi, however, accused Chinese border forces of "blatantly violating agreements" and firing "a few rounds in the air" to intimidate their Indian rivals. "It is the People's Liberation Army (PLA) that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive maneuvers," the Indian army said in a statement on Tuesday. "Despite the grave provocation, (our) own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner," the statement said.
The relationship between the two countries has deteriorated since a hand-to-hand combat clash in the Ladakh region on June 15 in which 20 Indian troops were killed. Experts fear the latest incident will intensify a months-long standoff between the Asian giants that erupted in late April. Experts say that starting in May, China intruded into areas claimed by India at several points along the frontier and might now control as much as 400 square miles that India considers its own.