Reuters: In the days leading up to the most violent border clash between India and China in decades, China brought in pieces of machinery, cut a trail into a Himalayan mountainside and may have even dammed a river, satellite pictures suggest.
Reuters: The images, shot on Tuesday, a day after soldiers engaged in hand-to-hand combat in the freezing Galwan Valley, show an increase in activity from a week earlier.
Reuters: The Galwan Valley is an arid, inhospitable area, where some soldiers are deployed on steep ridges. It is considered important because it leads to the Aksai Chin, a disputed plateau claimed by India but controlled by China.
Reuters: The satellite pictures, taken by Earth-imaging company Planet Labs and obtained by Reuters, show signs of altering the landscape of the valley through widening tracks, moving earth and making river crossings, one expert said.
Reuters: "Looking at it in Planet, it looks like China is constructing roads in the valley and possibly damming the river," Jeffrey Lewis(@ArmsControlWonk), director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at California’s Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
Reuters: "There are a ton of vehicles on both sides (of the LAC) - although there appear to be vastly more on the Chinese side. I count 30-40 Indian vehicles and well over 100 vehicles on the Chinese side."
Reuters: The fighting on Monday was triggered by a row over two Chinese tents and observation towers that India said had been built on its side of the LAC, Indian government sources in New Delhi and on the Indian side of the border in the Ladakh region said.
Reuters: An Indian patrol visited the area near a ridge to verify a Chinese assertion that its troops had moved back from the LAC, 2 government sources said. Chinese troops left behind the two tents and small observation posts, and the Indian party destroyed those, sources said.
Reuters: A large group of Chinese soldiers arrived and confronted the Indian troops, led by Colonel Santosh Babu. They were lightly armed in line with the rules of engagement at the LAC, one of the sources said.
Reuters: It was not clear what happened next, but the two sides soon clashed, with the Chinese using iron rods and batons with spikes, one of the sources said.
Reuters: Colonel Babu was one of the 20 victims, they said. More Indian troops were rushed in and the confrontation turned into an hours-long brawl eventually involving up to 900 soldiers, the source said. Still no shots were fired on either side.
Reuters: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao rejected the Indian version of the events. "The rights and wrongs of this incident are very clear. The responsibility does not lie with China."
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