SRINAGAR - The Indian army said Saturday it has killed five suspected rebels in northern Kashmir, near the heavily militarised de facto border dividing the disputed Himalayan territory between India and Pakistan.

Rebel leaders on the Pakistan side recently threatened an "unprecedented" surge in attacks on Indian targets as battle-hardened fighters from Afghanistan prepare to target the region. The suspected militants were infiltrating from Pakistan-administered Kashmir into Tangdhar, 180kms northwest of the region's main city of Srinagar, when they were killed, an army spokesman said.

"Our soldiers fired upon a group of militants who were seen moving in the area during the night. Five bodies and six automatic rifles were recovered from there after firing from the militants stopped," Col Rajesh Pandey told AFP. The incident, which comes a day after Indian police and troops killed five other suspected rebels in a forested area of Kangan,  could not be independently verified.

About a dozen rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan.

Both India and Pakistan control a part of the Muslim-majority territory but claim it in full.

The fighting has left tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, dead.The Indian army said it has killed 28 rebels during the last two months in the forested areas of northern Kashmir.

Rebel attempts to infiltrate Indian Kashmir this summer have more than doubled from the same period last year, the Indian army says.