One policeman has died and three others injured in a three-hour gun battle between security forces and armed separatists in the Sopore region of Indian-administered Kashmir, police have said.

The police on Tuesday launched an anti-separatist operation at Chanakhan in Sopore, 55km from the provincial capital Srinagar, with the assistance of the Indian army, reports said.

Additional security forces were rushed and the area was cordoned off, but the fighters managed to escape under the cover of firing.

Besides the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the police, soldiers of counter-insurgency Rashtriya Rifles and troopers of the Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were also engaged in the gun battle.

The policeman who died belonged to the rank of assistant sub-inspector. The three injured policemen are in hospital for treatment, the reports said.

Violence between Kashmiri separatists and Indian security forces has been continuing for the past two decades leading to tens of thousands of deaths.

The Kashmir region, disputed by and divided between India and Pakistan, has seen a surge of violence in recent months as rebels step up demands for independence or incorporation into Pakistan.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies