Indian troops have captured an important Chinese military post after allegedly fighting off an attempt by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to occupy further Indian territory in the disputed border region of Ladakh.
On Saturday evening, around 500 Chinese troops had tried to cross into Spanggur, a narrow valley near the village of Chushul and three hours of hand-to-hand combat ensued.
A senior Indian police source told the Telegraph the attack had been repulsed and a retaliatory special operations battalion seized a Chinese camp in the surrounding hills of Pangong Tso Lake in the early hours of this morning.
Video: China warns India to withdraw troops from LAC
It has not commented on the nature of the clash or whether either side suffered any casualties.
Today, the Indian Government accused Beijing of “provocative military movements” three months after Chinese troops annexed 60 square kilometres of Indian territory in Ladakh.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry denied its troops crossed the disputed Line of Actual Control, which separates the two superpowers, and accused the Indian Army of occupying its territory.
“India’s move has seriously violated China’s territorial sovereignty, severely undermined the peace and stability of the Sino-Indian border area, and rebelled against this. China strongly opposed this,” said Zhang Shuili, a spokesperson for the People's Liberation Army Western Theatre Command.
“We solemnly request the Indian side to immediately withdraw its illegally crossing troops, strictly control and restrain the front-line troops, earnestly abide by its commitments, and avoid further escalation of the situation.”
A senior Indian police source warned the situation had the potential to escalate, saying its troops had opened “a new front” by pushing Chinese troops back and capturing territory near the village of Chushul.
Military commanders from both nations met along the frontier today in an attempt to resolve the dispute, according to India’s Ministry of Defence.
It reiterated India’s commitment to dialogue but warned it was “also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity”.
“We never had any problem in this place and we hold it pretty strongly,” said Lieutenant General D.S. Hooda, the Indian military’s former northern commander.
“After relative calm, China has suddenly opened a fresh, brand new front. It’s a huge provocation”.
S. Jaishankar, India’s Minister of External Affairs, warned tension between the two countries is at its highest since the two agreed a ceasefire after the Sino-Indian War in 1962.
While sporadic fist-fighting has broken out along the border over the years, weapons had not been previously used, as this was seen as a declaration of war.
Military officials from New Delhi and Beijing have been locked in unsuccessful military talks following this incident.
China is said to be trying to assert its authority in the region in the wake of strengthening India-U.S. ties, which it sees as a threat.