İrem UZUN -TDO- India said 20 of its soldiers died following a clash with Chinese troops along the two countries’ disputed border in the Himalayan Mountains, the most violent confrontation between the two countries in decades. The Indian government said Chinese forces also suffered casualties. A Chinese spokesman said a clash took place after Indian soldiers “provocatively attacked” in an area China considers under its control, but he didn’t comment on whether troops on either side were killed or injured.

The incident occurred during a "deescalation process" underway in the Galwan Valley in the disputed Aksai Chin-Ladakh area, where a large troop build-up has reportedly been taking place for weeks now on both sides of the border. The deaths are the first military casualties along the two countries' disputed border for more than 40 years.

The Indian army initially reported three deaths, but this rose after a further 17 "who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high-altitude terrain succumbed to their injuries" said the Indian army in a statement. Indian government sources said that no shots were fired, and a physical fight had broken out between the two sides with soldiers using batons and throwing stones. "Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation," they said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that on Monday, "Indian troops seriously violated our consensus and twice crossed the border line for illegal activities and provoked and attacked Chinese personnel which lead to serious physical conflict between the two sides". "We both agreed to resolve this issue through dialogue and consolation and make efforts for easing the situation and upholding peace and tranquility in the border area," he added.

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