Four Kashmiri fighters also died in separate encounters with Indian forces in the restive region.

Indian security officials said Kashmiri fighters abducted and killed two Muslim members of a pro-government group in southern Kashmir that had been working with Indian counter-insurgency forces.

Two more Muslims were shot dead by Kashmiri fighters at their homes in the villages near Handwara, about 85 kms north of the provincial capital of Srinagar.

Two more were shot dead by the fighters in the southern districts of Anantnag and Udhampur, the police said.

“All were killed on suspicion of working as informers for the security forces,” the police spokesman said.

A day earlier, the Kashmiri fighters had abducted two more  members of the same Ikhwan group. Though both were later released, police said one had been tortured.

Security officials admit members of the Ikhwan are an asset for the government forces. They are mainly former rebels and provide important intelligence to the Indian security forces against a monthly retainership.

Kashmiri fighters had been targeting members of the Ikhwan since it was set up in 1994.

But security officials say such attacks have been stepped up  recently.

Indian security forces meanwhile said their troops shot dead four Kashmiri fighters in three separate encounters in Doda, Udhampur and Poonch.

Indian administered Kashmir has been in upheaval ever since a dozen-Kashmiri groups rose up in 1989 demanding independence from Indian rule.

More than 38,000 people have died in the continuing violence.