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Under previous rules of engagement between India and China, for which agrements were signed in 1996 and 2005, it was decided that neither side would open fire on the other. The two countries had also agreed not to use blasting explosives or firearms within two kilometres of either side of the LAC. But now the Army has changed rules of engagement along the LAC with China, empowering field commanders to sanction use of firearms under ”extraordinary” circumstances

Changes to the decades-old rules come less than a week after a violent face-off in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed and 76 soldiers were injured. Indian troops were attacked with iron rods, nail-studded clubs and rocks wrapped in barbed wire in the fight near Patrol Point 14, a vantage point in Indian territory that overlooks Chinese positions on their side of the LAC, the de-facto border between the two countries.

Neither the army nor the government have commented on how many Chinese soldiers were hurt or killed but sources put the number at 45. This information is based on intercepts as well as Chinese choppers seen in the area. The deadly clashes are the worst in 45 years. In 1975, four Assam Rifles soldiers were killed in Tulunug La pass in Arunachal Pradesh while on a routine patrol.

Reacting to the Indian Army’s new rules for using firearms, Hu Xijin, the Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese government’s mouthpiece Global Times tweeted, “If true, this is a serious violation of agreement, and the Indian side will pay a heavy price for any such action.”

India has blamed the clashes on “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there”, rebutting China’s claims that Indian soldiers crossed the border.

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