Indian officials say government forces have killed the top rebel commander in their part of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Police Director-General K. Rajendra says Burhan Wani, chief of operations of Indian Kashmir's largest rebel group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed in the fighting Friday after Indian troops, acting on a tipoff, cordoned a forested village in the southern Kashmir's Kokernag area.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in entirety by both. On India's side, about a dozen rebel groups have been fighting for independence or merger with Pakistan since 1989.

In his early 20's, Wani had become the iconic face of militancy in Kashmir over the last five years.

Inspector-General Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani described his killing as the "biggest success against militants" in recent years.