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At least 5 militants killed in Indian Kashmir gunbattle

NEW DELHI -- At least five suspected militants have been killed in a three-day long gunbattle with security forces in India-administered Kashmir, a news report said Saturday.

The clash began Wednesday after a joint team of army and police raided a village in the northern Handwara district after receiving information of presence of militants in the area.

“Five militants have been killed in the Handwara gunbattle that ended late Friday night,” army spokesman J.S. Brar told the IANS news agency.

Three houses — used by militants as bunkers to engage security forces — were also destroyed in the clash.

Four soldiers and a police constable were injured in the exchange of gunfire.

The Muslim-majority region has witnessed a separatist insurgency against New Delhi's rule since 1989, although the violence has declined in recent months.

More than 45,000 people have died in the conflict. India claims militant groups based there have been aided and supported by neighboring Pakistan. Islamabad denies the charge, calling the combatants freedom fighters.

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