An official says suspected rebels have ambushed and fatally shot three Indian army soldiers in the Indian portion of Kashmir.

Lt. Col. Ankur Vashist, an army spokesman, says the soldiers were on their way to search Buchoo village on Friday following intelligence that some Kashmiri insurgents were hiding there.

The attack took place 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Srinagar, the main city in the Indian portion of Kashmir.

Rebel groups have been fighting for independence from India or merger with Pakistan since 1989. More than 68,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the fighting since 1989.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the insurgents, a charge denied by Islamabad. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and the two have fought two wars over its control.