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An estimated 20 Indian troops were killed on the Himalayan border in skirmishes with China on Monday night. In what was the worst violence on the border in 45 years, a further 76 were injured following an escalation of tensions between the two sides. Both sides have continued to blame the other for the attack while China has now claimed sovereignty over the Galwan Vaelly in Ladakh, located in the far north of India.
In a move to solidify its control on the strategically important area, it has been reported the Indian government has completed the construction of a 60-metre bridge over the Galwan River which runs parallel to the border.
Not only does it stretch over the river but it also connects the northern region of India to the northernmost tip of the border, a construction Chinese officials wanted to stop.
One journalist reported: “Indian Army engineers have completed construction of a 60-metre bridge over Galwan river in Ladakh that China wanted to stop.
“This is a bold strategic move to consolidate India’s position across the 255 km long strategic road from Darbuk to Daulat Beg Oldie.”
The construction of the bridge was seen as one of the main reasons as to what sparked the clash in the region.
A senior Indian Army official told the Hindustan Times that the clashes on June 15 did not halt the construction of the bridge during the attack.
They said: “We did not pause work on this bridge through the stand-off and kept working despite the violent face-off on June 15.”
If tensions escalate into conflict, the bridge would provide a major advantage to be able to transport military personnel to the region.
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The Chinese military also captured ten Indian soldiers during the attack but returned them on Thursday night.
The Chinese military denied this, however.
China has claimed however that Indian forces had crossed the border three times.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs said: “The responsibility entirely lies with Indian side.
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“We hope India can work with China to maintain the long-term development of bilateral relations.”
Although the Galwan Valley is largely inhospitable, it leads to Aksai Chin.
Aksai Chin is a disputed piece of land claimed by India but controlled by China.
India Prime Minister, Narendra Modi will now host an all-party meeting in New Dehli to discuss the crisis.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued condolences for the loss of troops.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the people of India for the lives lost as a result of the recent confrontation with China.
“We will remember the soldiers’ families, loved ones, and communities as they grieve.”
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