SRINAGAR - Troops and police on Monday killed three suspected freedom fighters holed up in a government building in Indian Held Kashmir, ending a three-day gunbattle in which five soldiers and a civilian also died, police said.

The fighting broke out when rebels ambushed a paramilitary convoy on Saturday, killing two troopers before taking refuge in the building on the outskirts of the state capital Srinagar.

“All the three ‘militants’ have been killed in the gunbattle. Their bodies have been recovered,” said Javaid Gillani, the inspector general of police for the region.

“The encounter is over,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Ghulam Hassan Bhat said.

“This is one of the longest encounters in (Held) Kashmir in recent memory,” said an army officer, who asked not to be named. “This is because the building is very big and we have suffered casualties.”

The heavily-armed separatists, who are fighting against Indian rule over the disputed Himalayan region, allowed more than 120 people including trainees and staff to flee from the building after holing up there.Soldiers and police surrounded it and fired mortar bombs, while the attackers responded with automatic weapons and hand grenades.

On Sunday two captains and a special forces soldier were killed as the gunbattle raged.

A gardener died in the initial crossfire and 13 members of the Central Reserve Police Force were wounded.

As the battle raged, hundreds of local residents came onto the streets in support of the rebels, chanting slogans against Indian rule. Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since they won independence from Britain in 1947. Both claim the territory in its entirety.

Several Kashmiri groups have for decades been fighting Indian forces deployed in the Himalayan region, demanding independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan.

The fighting has left tens of thousands dead, mostly civilians.

Last week police ordered residents to stay indoors during gunbattles with suspected freedom fighters after two students were killed in similar protests.

Overall violence in the region has sharply declined during the last decade but armed clashes between rebels and government forces still occur regularly.