China’s military yesterday said that four of its soldiers were killed in a mountain border clash with Indian forces last year, the first time that Beijing has publicly stated that its side had casualties in the deadliest incident between the Asian giants in nearly 45 years.
India at the time announced that it had lost 20 of its soldiers in the June fighting atop a ridge in the Karakoram Mountains in the Ladakh region.
Soldiers used their fists, clubs, stones and other improvised weapons to avoid an out-and-out firefight.
China was believed to have also sustained casualties, but did not provide any details, saying that it did not want to further inflame tensions.
The two sides are now engaged in a phased pullback from their original positions following multiple rounds of negotiations.
The People’s Liberation Army Daily newspaper said that the four Chinese soldiers and officers killed had all been bestowed with honors and named as martyrs, while a fifth was also awarded by the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Military Commission.
Earlier, unconfirmed reports had put the number of Chinese dead as high as 45, and Lieutenant General Y.K. Joshi, who commands the Indian Army’s Northern Command, said that Indian observers counted more than 60 Chinese troops being taken away on stretchers, although it was not clear how many sustained fatal injuries.
Joshi told Indian station News18 that Chinese forces had appeared unwilling to make concessions until Indian forces occupied commanding heights on Aug. 29 and 30 last year. An agreement to begin pulling back was reached on Wednesday last week.
“This disengagement is happening because we had taken the dominating position on the Kailash range. So, now the purpose has been achieved, we are going back to status quo ante April 2020,” Joshi told the station.
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