Indian officials reported that at least 20 of its soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in a disputed Himalayan border area, said a BBC report.

On Tuesday, the Indian army said three of its soldiers, including an officer, had died in a clash in Ladakh, in the disputed Kashmir region.

Later in the day, it released a statement saying the two sides had disengaged.

Indian officials added that “17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty” and died from their injuries, taking the “total that were killed in action to 20”.

China did not confirm any casualties on its side, but accused India in turn of crossing the border onto the Chinese side.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said India had crossed the border twice on Monday.

“(They are) provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides”, said Zhao in an AFP news agency report.

While India’s external affairs ministry accused China of breaking an agreement struck the previous week to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley.

According to the report, the LAC is poorly demarcated as the presence of rivers, lakes and snowcaps means the line can shift.

The soldiers either side – representing two of the world’s largest armies – come face to face at many points, said BBC.

There are several reasons why tensions are rising now – but competing strategic goals lie at the root and both sides blame each other.

Both clashing countries insisted that no shots were fired on either side.

But the extent of the injuries that led to the death of its soldiers was not mentioned.

India has accused China of sending thousands of troops into Ladakh’s Galwan valley and claimed China has occupied 38,000sq km (14,700sq miles) of its territory. Several rounds of talks in the last three decades have failed to resolve boundary disputes.

In1962, the two countries have fought only one war, where India suffered a humiliating defeat, said CNN. 

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