June 16 (UPI) -- A decades-long border dispute between China and India in the Himalayas has turned deadly for the first time in nearly a half-century.
An Indian colonel was among the 20 people who died in fighting late Monday, authorities said, adding that they were killed with batons and stones, or they fell into a gorge. No shots were fired.
The western Himalayan border, where both countries fought the Sino-Indian War in 1962, had not seen a deadly conflict there since 1975, 45 years ago. Indian officials said there were casualties on both sides.
The fighting lasted for several hours until both sides disengaged early Tuesday.
"During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place," the Indian Army said in a statement. "The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers. Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation."
Thousands of soldiers fought in the area along the unmarked border in a confrontation that had been brewing for weeks. Last month, Indian officials accused China of sending soldiers into an India-controlled area to build guard posts and tents.
The Chinese state-run Global Times blamed Indian troops for crossing into its territory.
"The Indian troops on Monday severely violated the consensus reached in the two countries' army commander-level talks on June 6, as they crossed the border twice for illegal activities and launched provocative attacks against Chinese personnel," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a statement.