Indian forces are on the offensive

The clash took place in the thickly forested foothills of the towering Pir Panjal range, to the south of Srinagar, capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.

 

Indian forces say they have been conducting a major operation over the past two months to hunt down separatist rebels inside Indian-administered Kashmir, while also trying to stop others from infiltrating from neighbouring Pakistan.

   

A police spokesman said the forces had information that the fighters were hiding in the area. When the security forces tried to form a cordon, the fighters opened fire. Three of them were killed in the ensuing three-hour firefight.

 

Kashmir dispute

 

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, two of them over Kashmir.

   

They came close to war last year over Indian allegations of Pakistani involvement - denied by Islamabad - in an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001 allegedly by Kashmiri fighters.

   

But the two countries have now begun reciprocal confidence-building measures, resuming road and air links and restoring full diplomatic ties. These were frozen after the attack on the Indian parliament.