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Rebels gun down top counterinsurgency officer in Indian-ruled Kashmir, police chief says

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 file photo, Indian police officers embrace each other as they cry during the wreath laying ceremony of their colleague sub-inspector Mohammed Altaf in Srinagar, Indian. Suspected rebels gunned down the top police officer known for his successful counterinsurgency operations in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police said Thursday. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 file photo, Indian police officers embrace each other as they cry during the wreath laying ceremony of their colleague sub-inspector Mohammed Altaf in Srinagar, Indian. Suspected rebels gunned down the top police officer known for his successful counterinsurgency operations in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police said Thursday. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 file photo, unidentified relatives of sub-inspector Mohammed Altaf carry his coffin during a wreath laying ceremony in Srinagar, Indian. Suspected rebels gunned down the top police officer known for his successful counterinsurgency operations in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police said Thursday. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 file photo, unidentified relatives of sub-inspector Mohammed Altaf carry his coffin during a wreath laying ceremony in Srinagar, Indian. Suspected rebels gunned down the top police officer known for his successful counterinsurgency operations in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police said Thursday. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan, File)  (The Associated Press)

A police chief says suspected rebels have killed a police officer known for his successful counterinsurgency operations in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Regional police chief K. Rajendra said insurgents fired at sub-inspector Mohammed Altaf as he was leading an operation against a group of militants in northwestern Bandipora on Wednesday.

Rajendra said Altaf was "one of our most outstanding and expert officers in counterinsurgency."

Altaf was recruited as a constable in 1998 and was awarded the president's gallantry medal. He earned several promotions for his formidable intelligence gathering skills and success in hunting down top rebel leaders.

Since 1989, militants have been fighting for Kashmir's independence or merger with Pakistan. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the violence. India blames Pakistan for funding and training the rebels, which Islamabad denies.