SRINAGAR: Indian government forces killed three suspected rebels in Kashmir overnight following a lengthy gunbattle near the de facto border with Pakistan, police said Tuesday.
The three were killed after heavy firing erupted between security forces and rebels on Monday afternoon at Handwara, a village in a forest 90 kilometres or 56 miles from the state's main city of Srinagar, a local officer said.
Four officers from the police special operations group were injured in the gunbattle that broke out near the heavily militarised border that divides the Himalayan region between India and Pakistan.
"We had specific inputs about the presence of three militants in the area."
"All three were killed in the encounter," inspector general of police Abdul Gani Mir told AFP.
The deaths come after suspected militants shot dead a counter-insurgency police officer who was on patrol at a market just outside Srinagar on Monday.
About a dozen rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for Kashmir's independence or for its merger with Pakistan.
The fighting has left tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, dead.
Tuesday's incident follows weeks of sporadic firing across the disputed frontier, which has been among the heaviest since a ceasefire agreement in 2003.
India regularly accuses Pakistan's army of providing covering fire for rebels who infiltrate across the border and then mount attacks in the Indian sector of Kashmir.
The Muslim-majority region is divided and administered separately by India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both.
Th two countries have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir. (AFP)