India and China have accused each other’s soldiers of firing warning shots in the latest incident on the disputed border in the Himalayas.

China initially claimed Indian soldiers crossed the Line of Actual Control in the western border region on Monday and opened fire as part of a “severe military provocation”, forcing Chinese forces to take “corresponding countermeasures”.

India rejected Chinese allegations of violating border agreements and accused Chinese troops of firing in the air to intimidate Indian troops in what it described as “provocative activities”.

The relationship between the nuclear-armed neighbours has deteriorated since a clash in the Ladakh region on 15 June in which 20 Indian troops were killed. It is 45 year since shots were last fired at the border, under an agreement barring firearm use.

Zhang Shuili, a spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), said India had violated agreements reached by the two countries and warned their actions could “easily cause misunderstandings and misjudgments”.

He called for India to withdraw the troops who it said crossed the border and investigate. There was no word of casualties on either side.

China said the incident happened on the southern coast of Pangong lake in an area known in Chinese as Shenpaoshan. On the Indian side, the area is known as Chushul where the two countries’ local military commanders have held several rounds of talks to defuse the standoff.

Both sides have sent tens of thousands of troops to the disputed Himalayan border, which sits at an altitude of more than 4,000 metres (13,500ft).

Their troops have had a number of showdowns since a medieval, nighttime clash on 15 June that was the deadliest conflict in 45 years between the nuclear-armed rivals. According to Indian officials, Chinese troops atop a ridge at the mouth of the narrow Galwan Valley threw stones, punched and pushed Indian soldiers down the ridge at around 4,500 meters (15,000 feet). India said 20 of its soldiers were killed, including a colonel. China did not report any casualties.

Defence ministers from both countries talked in Moscow on the sidelines of an international meeting last week – with both sides later releasing rival statements accusing each other of inflaming the showdown.

And earlier this week an Indian minister said Delhi had alerted China to allegations five men had been abducted by the People’s Liberation Army close to the disputed border.

With Agence France-Presse and Associated Press

The Guardian


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