SRINAGAR - Suspected freedom fighters in Indian-occupied Kashmir killed a police officer and a soldier in a shoot-out on Thursday, police said. The battle broke out when government forces cordoned off a village after receiving intelligence that two armed men were there. “One SPO (Special Police Officer) and a soldier were killed in the exchange of fire,” director general of police K Rajendra told media. Three other government forces and a civilian were also wounded during the firefight, police said.

Several Kashmiri groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for independence or a merger with Pakistan. The fighting has killed tens of thousands, mostly civilians.

Violence in the region has steadily declined during the last decade but armed encounters between rebels and government forces occur regularly.