The Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army have exchanged gunfire for the first time at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on Monday as Beijing claimed that Indian troops crossed the border in Ladakh. The Indian Army has denied the charges, but the Chinese foreign ministry condemned what it called a “serious and dangerous” provocation on Tuesday.

Dozens of Chinese troops are facing off with Indian soldiers in Rezang La in eastern Ladakh, government sources in New Delhi said on Tuesday.

“More than 40 Chinese troops are in a stand-off at Mukhpari near the north of Rezang La. The distance between the troops of the two sides is close to 100 meters,” sources added.

The People's Liberation Army soldiers are armed; their weapons include spears and machetes. The situation is on a "knife-edge" in the region, sources have revealed, adding that some conversations are taking place between the Indian and Chinese side via a hotline to diffuse the tension.

Indian Army troops had scaled the ridgeline of the mountains in the area, from the south bank of Pangong Tso to Rechin La. The face-off erupted after Chinese troops approached to dislodge the Indian Army from one of the heights, which had remained unoccupied since 1962.

The stand-off broke out a day after the People’s Liberation Army accused Indian troops of brazen “gunshot threats to the patrolling troops of the PLA frontier defence force who had come forward for negotiations”.

The People’s Liberation Army claimed that the Chinese border guards had been forced to take countermeasures to control and stabilise the situation on Monday night. Nevertheless, the Indian Army categorically refuted the allegation, saying “at no stage has the Indian Army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing”.

Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry, while reiterating the charges, said on Tuesday that it had contacted India via diplomatic and military channels after Indian troops 'illegally' crossed the LAC on Monday.

The border skirmishes between the two Asian giants have worsened this year; the countries do not have a marked border; the Line of Actual Control, created after the 1962 war between the nations, divides the region into Indian and Chinese-controlled regions.