Conflicts & War

India says 76 soldiers injured in border clash with China, recovering

By Sarwar Kashani

New Delhi, June 19 (efe-epa).- India for the first time on Friday said 76 of its soldiers had been wounded in deadly hand-to-hand combat with Chinese troops during a clash on a disputed mountainous border earlier this week, in which 20 of its personnel were killed.

“No one (among the injured soldiers) is critical as of now. All are stable,” an Indian Army source told EFE on the condition of anonymity.

He said that 18 soldiers were being treated at the military hospital in Leh, the capital of the federally-administered Ladakh region.

The border region is at the heart of the military confrontation in the western Himalayas, after a deadly clash in the picturesque but inhospitable Galwan Valley on Monday night.

“They will be out on duty in about 15 days. (Another) 58 soldiers (are being treated) at other hospitals. (They) should be back on duty within a week,” the source said.

The tensions on the borders remain high despite the governments agreeing to de-escalate one of the worst military crises in decades between the two nuclear-armed Asian giants.

Officials from both sides on Thursday said they were talking through military and diplomatic channels to not let the matters escalate further on the contested border in the high-altitude Ladakh sector.

The two sides have been holding senior military-level talks without any breakthrough on how to defuse the tension, sources in New Delhi said.

The two countries have been blaming each other for the violence and changing the status quo on the de-facto border called the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Thursday that New Delhi remained convinced of the need for maintenance of peace and tranquility on the border areas and resolution of differences through dialog.

“It was a premeditated and planned action which resulted in violence and casualties suffered by both sides,” he said, although Beijing has not confirmed any losses.

The violence marked an unprecedented border tension between the two neighbors, which have been locked in a bitter standoff simmering for weeks now after India allegedly started constructing roads and an airstrip in the disputed Himalayan region, which is also claimed by Pakistan.

There have been reports of the two sides reinforcing their border defenses, raising fears about an extended military deadlock between the two.

The United States, whose ties with China have been deteriorating over trade confrontations and Covid-19 pandemic, on Friday, offered condolences to India over the deaths of 20 soldiers.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the people of India for the lives lost as a result of the recent confrontation with China. We will remember the soldiers’ families, loved ones, and communities as they grieve,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted.

Another senior US diplomat, David Stilwell, assistant secretary for East Asia and Pacific, noted that China’s recent moves, including the border standoff with India, was “an opportunity to take advantage of distraction” as the world was focusing to fight the Covid-19.

“I will point you to several articles that I’ve seen that note that – one explanation for creating multiple fronts like this is an assessment in Beijing that the world is distracted and is focused entirely on survival, right, recovering from the corona pandemic, which then possibly is seen as an opportunity to take advantage of the distraction,” Stilwell said.

He was replying to a question on issues concerning China like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the border clash with India.

Stilwell said he was not offering an official US government position “but there are some – numerous explanations out there for that.”

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