SRINAGAR, India (AP) — In a surge in fighting between government forces and rebels seeking an end of Indian rule over Kashmir, at least three suspected rebels and an army commando were killed Tuesday in two separate gunbattles in the disputed region, police said.

Fighting erupted in the northwestern area of Handwara after Indian troops launched a counterinsurgency operation and killed three militants there, said Muneer Ahmed Khan, a senior police officer.

In another operation in the neighboring Kupwara area, a special forces soldier was killed in a continuing gunbattle, police said.

Khan said government forces were battling a few militants trapped in the area.

There was no independent confirmation of the two clashes, the latest in a string of deadly shootouts between Indian forces and rebels in restive Kashmir. At least eight rebels, an Indian air force commando and a policeman have been killed in the last two days.

At least 190 rebels and 70 government soldiers have been killed in fighting this year.

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir in its entirety. Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the region, and most people support the rebels' cause while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.