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Chinese, Indian troops clash in Sikkim border skirmishes

NEW DELHI, India: Chinese and Indian troops have reportedly clashed again in a disputed Himalayan border area, with injuries on both sides, Indian media claimed.

The incident took place in north Sikkim. India’s army said there had been a “minor” incident that had been “resolved”.

Tensions are high along the world’s longest disputed border. Both sides claim large areas of territory.

The latest reports about skirmishes show that tensions are still running high. The Indian army statement shows that both nations are still keen on keeping the dialogue route open and don’t want skirmishes to derail the process.

They have conducted several military-level talks to ease tensions but nothing concrete has come of them yet.

And troops are still facing each other at several flashpoints along their contested border.

Some former Indian officers say such exchanges can’t be avoided when the situation is so fluid. But they agree that talks need to continue as both nations would not want a war – not even a limited one.

At least 20 Indian soldiers died in a skirmish in the Ladakh area last June. It happened at Naku La in north Sikkim, the media reports said. Sikkim is an Indian state sandwiched between Bhutan and Nepal, about 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) east of the Ladakh area.

A Chinese patrol tried to enter Indian territory and was forced back, the officials said. Some reports said sticks and stones were used, but there were no gunshots.

An Indian army statement played down the incident, saying there “was a minor face-off at Naku La area of North Sikkim on 20 January 2021 and the same was resolved by local commanders as per established protocols”.

Sources said both sides brought in reinforcements after a “brawl” but there was no gunfire and the situation was under control.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian did not give details of the incident, but said China’s troops were “committed to upholding peace” and urged India to “refrain from actions that might escalate or complicate the situation along the border”.

The editor-in-chief of China’s state-affiliated Global Times tweeted there was “no record of this clash in the patrol log of the Chinese side”.