Indian troops kill 3 rebels in Kashmir fighting

Three rebels were killed in a gunbattle with Indian troops in disputed Kashmir early today, police said.

Counterinsurgency police and soldiers staged an early morning raid on a cluster of homes in southern Khudwani village on a tip that rebels were hiding there and came under fire, said top police office SP Vaid. In the ensuing fighting, three militants were killed while troops suffered no casualties, he said.

Residents said the raiding troops torched two civilian homes where the rebels were trapped.

The fighting comes a day after suspected militants abducted and killed a police official in the same area.

In recent years, local police working with India's counterinsurgency forces have increasingly been targeted by the rebels, who accuse them of being collaborators.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989, demanding that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Most Kashmiris support the rebels' cause while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Pakistan denies. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.