On Monday, June 15, clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in the contested Galwan Valley (Ladakh territory) resulted in at least 20 Indian soldiers dead. The Indian Army initially reported the deaths of two soldiers and an officer, but later announced that 17 more critically injured soldiers had died of their wounds. The fighting between the two sides did not involve the use of firearms, which would have been considered an act of war, and instead was reportedly undertaken using rocks and bats. The fatalities are the first combat deaths in the area since 1975, marking a significant escalation in the border conflict.
Tensions have been rising between India and China over the Himalayan their Himalayan border, which is poorly demarcated. The de-facto border, referred to as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), changes regularly and opposing patrols often meet. Both sides increased the number of troops in the area following a large skirmish between patrols in May; clashes have continued since then.
High-level meetings between Chinese and Indian officials are planned in the coming days in an attempt to defuse the situation.
Further skirmishes and a heightened security presence is to be expected in the area in the near term.
China has administered Aksai Chin, including the Galwan Valley, since the conclusion of the Sino-Indian war of 1962. The Indian government disputes China's control of the area; although the Chinese and Indian governments agreed in 2005 to a resolution of the border dispute, no further progress has been made on the demarcation of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). India's recent construction of infrastructure near the LAC has acted as a point of contention between the two sides.
Individuals present in the region are advised to avoid the vicinity of the disputed area, monitor developments, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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