Suspected militants killed three Indian soldiers after ambushing a convoy in restive Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said Saturday.
An unknown number of people on motorbikes opened fire on the army convoy near Pampore town on the key highway a few miles south of Srinagar, the region's main city, officials said.
"Motorcycle-borne militants ambushed an army convoy. There have been casualties but details are being ascertained," K. Rajendra Kumar, police chief of the Kashmir region told AFP.
An Indian army official on condition of anonymity told AFP that "three soldiers were martyred in the attack".
The gunmen fled the scene and a major search operation to track down the attackers had been launched, the source said.
Thousands of vehicles including army convoys pass daily through the crucial 300-kilometre Jammu-Srinagar highway -- the only road link to the Himalayan valley.
Last month suspected militants killed seven soldiers after they attacked a military base along the highway.
There has been an uptick in deadly gunfights between armed rebels and security forces after months of mass protests against Indian rule, which left more than 90 civilians dead and thousands more injured.
The protests started after a militant commander was shot dead in a gunfight in July, triggering the fatal clashes between protesters and government forces.
Although the protests have largely subsided a crackdown on suspected protesters is continuing.
Several rebel groups -- demanding either independence for Kashmir or for it to be made part of Pakistan -- have long clashed with the roughly 500,000 Indian troops deployed in the region since 1989.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the territory in full.
Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict.