SRINAGAR: The Indian army said on Tuesday that 20 of its soldiers were killed in clashes with Chinese troops at a disputed border site, in a major escalation of a weeks-long standoff in the western Himalayas.
In a statement, the army said that 17 critically injured Indian troops succumbed to their wounds, in addition to an officer and two soldiers who had died earlier.
Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged in the areas where the clashes took place, the statement said.
The Indian army initially said three of its soldiers had been killed, adding that both sides suffered casualties.
Beijing on Tuesday confirmed the incident and accused India of crossing the border and “attacking Chinese personnel”.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Indian troops “crossed the border line twice… provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides.”
The Indian army said the incident took place in the Galwan Valley in the high-altitude Ladakh region – which is just opposite Tibet.
Thousands of troops from the two nuclear-armed neighbours have been involved in the latest face-off since May.
The incident is the first such confrontation between the two Asian giants since 1975 in which soldiers have died.
Thousands of soldiers from the two countries, backed by armored trucks and artillery, have been facing off just a few hundred meters (yards) apart for more than a month in the Ladakh region near Tibet. Army officers and diplomats have held a series of meetings to try to end the impasse, with no breakthrough.