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SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Four Indian soldiers and four militants were killed on Tuesday in gunbattles in Kashmir, in the second outbreak of violence between security forces and separatists in three days.

Three soldiers and a militant died in a shootout in North Kashmir's Bandipora district, as a joint army and police team mounted a search following a tip-off that gunmen were in the area, a defence spokesman said. Five soldiers were wounded.

"During the searches, militants hiding in a house opened fire, triggering off an encounter," Lieutenant Colonel Rajesh Kalia told Reuters. He said there were no arrests.

Separately, security forces shot dead three militants in Handwara district, a senior police official told Reuters. An Indian army officer was also killed in the gunbattle.

India is trying to contain an insurgency in its northernmost region that is more than a quarter-century old. Protests flared last year after security forces killed a popular underground separatist leader called Burhan Wani.

India accuses Pakistan of smuggling in men, equipment and counterfeit cash to back separatist fighters - a charge Islamabad denies. The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars since independence over Kashmir, which each claims in full but rules only a part.

Four militants and two Indian soldiers were among seven killed in a gunbattle in South Kashmir on Sunday.

(Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari; Editing by Douglas Busvine, Rajesh Kumar Singh and Andrew Roche)

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