The Indian army says its soldiers have killed three suspected rebels near the heavily militarized line of control that divides disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

Army spokesman Col. Nitin N. Joshi says the soldiers engaged the militants after tracking them in Tangdhar sector on Sunday.

The rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the subsequent Indian military crackdown.

Meanwhile, a security lockdown and protest strikes continued for the 44th straight day Sunday, with tens of thousands of Indian armed police and paramilitary soldiers patrolling the tense region. The killing of a popular rebel commander on July 8 sparked some of Kashmir's largest protests against Indian rule in recent years.