In the latest in a series of violent encounters, the Indian army has killed three suspected armed Kashmiri separatists in a 12-hour gunbattle in the Handwara region of the disputed region.

Reports quoting Indian army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Nitin Narhar Joshi said the army and police launched a joint operation on Monday night following information that the separatists were hiding in a forested area of Handwara in  the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir state.

The three men were killed early on Tuesday. There were no casualties on the Indian side, said the spokesman.

The encounter follows the killing of a senior police officer on Monday in the state's Chadoora village by suspected separatists. Three other police officials were injured.

According to media reports, the attack on the police party occurred around 2pm in the main market of Chadoora village.
"Mr Shabir along with a constable Mohammad Shafi and special police officer Firdous Ahmad were injured in the attack. A civilian, Ghulam Mohammad, also suffered gunshot wounds," said a local news website Authint Mail quoting Kashmir police spokesperson Majoj Sheeri

The Al-Nasreen group claimed responsibility for the attack, said the website.

A large contingent of police and paramilitary forces arrived at the site of shooting and conducted a search operation to nab the suspects.

Kashmir, which has been an issue of dispute between India and Pakistan since independence and partition in 1947, has been wracked by violence intermittently since 1989 when fighting between separatists and Indian security forces reached new levels. Agencies estimate that some 68,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Source: Al Jazeera