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India, China “Minor Face-Off” In Sikkim

New Delhi

Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed along the Line of Actual Control near Naku La pass in Sikkim last week, the army said today, downplaying the incident as a “minor face-off”.

The clashes took place on January 20, when a Chinese patrol tried to cross into Indian Territory. A short statement said the tensions were “resolved by local commanders as per established protocols”.

There were “insignificant and minor injuries” on both sides, sources said.

Four Indian troops were injured when a Chinese patrol was forced back, government sources said. They added that China’s People’s Liberation Army suffered an unknown number of casualties.

“We have received several queries regarding a face-off between Indian Army and PLA troops in Sikkim sector. It is clarified that there was a minor face-off at Naku La area of North Sikkim on 20 January and the same was resolved by local commanders as per established protocols,” said the army’s statement.

The army added that the media should “refrain from overplaying or exaggerating reports which are factually incorrect”.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing in Beijing on Monday he had “no information to offer” on the reports of clashes.

“I would like to stress, though, that’s China’s border troops are committed to upholding peace and tranquility along the border with India,” Zhao said. “We urge the Indian side to work in the same direction with us and refrain from actions that might escalate or complicate the situation along the border,” he added.

The Naku La pass, located at an altitude of 19,000 feet, connects Sikkim to the Tibet region in China and is known to be a sensitive area.

Troops of both sides last clashed in the same region in May 2020, just days before an unprecedented escalation when 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed in a physical clash in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

India and China have since been locked in a standoff along the border in Ladakh. New Delhi has said Beijing must restore status quo to defuse tension.

The two sides held the ninth round of military talks yesterday and discussions went on for 15 hours, till around 2.30 AM at Chushul in Eastern Ladakh.

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