An Indian army official says three suspected rebels and an army officer have been killed in a fierce gunbattle near the heavily militarized line of control dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. N.N. Joshi says two militants were killed on Wednesday and an army officer and a suspected rebel died a day earlier in the fighting.

Joshi said the fighting began Tuesday after troops, acting on a tip, surrounded a forested area in the Handwara region.

There was no independent confirmation of the incident and no immediate comment from the dozen or so rebel groups fighting Indian rule.

Rebels have been battling Indian rule since 1989. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the uprising and in a subsequent Indian military crackdown.