Indian and Chinese border troops exchanged gunfire last week, Indian officials said on Wednesday. The incident occurred just days before the foreign ministers from both countries met in Moscow to discuss tensions over the vague Line of Actual Control, the disputed border in the western Himalayas.
There have been three incidents of gunfire, mostly warning shots, since late August with no reported casualties. Since the two countries have had a long-standing agreement not to use firearms in the area, these incidents marked the first time in 45 years that India and China exchanged shots at the border.
Military sources told The South China Morning Post that Chinese border troops increased their combat readiness to the second-highest level after last week’s gunfire. The alert was lowered after the foreign ministers from India and China met in Moscow last week and agreed to reduce tensions.
A source told the Post that the increase in China’s combat readiness meant more weapons and troops were deployed to the border. This was the first time China’s combat readiness was this high since 1987 after a skirmish brought the two countries to the brink of war.
Tensions have been simmering between Beijing and New Delhi in the Himalayas since a clash broke out in June that resulted in the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers. China said it suffered casualties in the skirmish as well but has not disclosed any numbers.