The two sides fought with fists, stones and nailed bamboo poles in what was the deadliest border fight between the two nuclear-armed neighbors in more than 40 years. New Delhi previously said that at least 20 Indian soldiers died in the Galwan Valley brawl. On Friday, China’s official army newspaper PLA Daily said a battalion commander, Chen Hongjun, and three soldiers – Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan and Wang Zhuoran – had died in the “fierce battle” to defend the border and received posthumous awards. An award was also given to Qi Fabao, regimental commander of the PLA Xinjiang Military Command, who was seriously injured in the clash, the report said.
PLA Daily did not reveal the ranks of the soldiers.
According to the PLA Daily report, “foreign military” troops broke an agreement with China and crossed the border to the Chinese side to pitch tents. The report also alleged that when Qi led some PLA soldiers to negotiate, the Indian side used more soldiers to compel Chinese troops to conclude.
China and India blamed each other for the skirmish.
An Indian military source previously told CNN that the dispute began over a Chinese tent that was erected the night before the clash. Indian troops demolished it, according to the source. The next day, Chinese soldiers armed with stones and bamboo sticks with nails returned and attacked unprepared Indian troops. CNN cannot independently confirm this report of events.
India and China share a 3,379-kilometer border in the Himalayas. which is poorly defined in places and hotly contested. Both sides claim territory on both sides.
The clash in June 2020 broke out near Pangong Tso, a strategically important lake located around 4,267 meters above sea level and stretching over an area stretching from the Indian territory of Ladakh to China-controlled Tibet in the greater Kashmir region extends where India China and Pakistan all claim territory.
In 1962, India and China went to war over this remote, inhospitable stretch of land and eventually established the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border spanned by Pangong Tso. However, the two countries disagree on the exact location of the LAC and both regularly accuse the other of crossing it or expanding their territory. Since then, they have fought mostly non-fatal brawls across the border position in the past.
In September the two countries agreed not to send any more troops to the border after tensions between New Delhi and Beijing had escalated. The situation was temporarily resolved and both sides held several rounds of talks.
According to the Indian Army, there was yet another “minor” clash between the two sides in January, despite the fact that it was “resolved by local commanders according to established protocols”.
On February 10, the Chinese Ministry of Defense said the two countries had begun to break up on the south and north coasts of Pangong Tso after reaching an agreement with India.
According to satellite images, China has withdrawn troops, dismantled infrastructure and cleared camps along the disputed border.
Satellite photos taken by Maxar Technologies in the US on January 30th showed a series of Chinese missions along Pangong Tso. In new images taken Tuesday, dozens of vehicles and building structures had been removed, leaving empty land.
CNN’s Brad Lendon, James Griffiths and Jessie Yeung contributed to the coverage.