4 suspected Islamic militants killed in Indian Kashmir

The army killed four suspected Islamic militants during a gunbattle Tuesday after cordoning off a mountainous village in the Indian portion of Kashmir , an army officer said. The fight erupted after the army began searching for suspected insurgents following a tip that they were hiding in the village of Khari , the officer said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

The exchange of gunfire was continuing in the area, but there were no army casualties so far, the officer said. The region is 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Jammu , the winter capital of India 's Jammu-Kashmir state. Nearly a dozen separatist rebel groups have been fighting for Kashmir 's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan . More than 66,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The insurgents have vowed to continue fighting Indian forces despite a cease-fire between the Indian and Pakistani armies since November 2003 in disputed Kashmir , which both countries claim in its entirety. The longtime rivals have been holding talks since January 2004 to settle the decades-old Kashmir dispute, the cause of two of their three wars since they won independence from Britain in 1947. But the progress has been slow and there has been no breakthrough so far, reports the AP.