At least 20 Indian soldiers, including a senior army officer, were killed in a confrontation with Chinese troops along their disputed border high in the Himalayas where thousands of soldiers on both sides have been facing off for over a month, the Indian army said Tuesday. The incident—in which neither side fired any shots, according to Indian officials—is the first deadly confrontation between the two Asian giants since 1975, reports the AP. The Indian Army initially said in a statement that three Indian soldiers had died, but later updated the number to 20 and said 17 "were critically injured in the line of duty at the standoff location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain." The statement did not disclose the nature of the soldiers' injuries.
Two Indian security officials told the AP that soldiers from the two sides engaged in fistfights and stone-throwing, which led to the casualties. A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said Indian forces had "violated the consensus of the two sides, crossed the border illegally twice and carried out provocative attacks on Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical conflicts between the two border forces." The rep gave no details on any Chinese casualties but said Tuesday that China had strongly protested the incident while still being committed to maintaining "peace and tranquility" along the disputed and heavily militarized border, where India is building a strategic road. Army officers and diplomats have held a series of meetings to try to end the impasse, with no breakthrough. (Read more India stories.)