One Indian soldier was martyred and four militants killed in an overnight encounter in Handwara area of north Kashmir's Kupwara district.

"Four militants and one Army solider of 9 para were killed in operation," India Today quoted a top police official as saying.

At least three soldiers were injured in the gun battle. A huge cache of arms and ammunition were recovered from the dead militants, NDTV reported.

The gunfight began soon after the Army, paramilitary forces and the Jammu & Kashmir Police launched an operation in Hafruda forest area of Handwara on Wednesday night. The operation lasted till early Thursday morning.

"Security forces, including troops of the army's para regiment, Special Operations Group of state police (SOG) and CRPF, surrounded Vilgam (Handwara) village late Wednesday following information about a group of guerrillas hiding in the village," a police officer told IANS.

"When the guerrillas were challenged they resorted to firing at the security forces triggering the encounter in which four militants and an army soldier were killed," he added.

The area has reportedly been cordoned off and a search operation has been launched.

This was the third encounter between the Indian security forces and militants in north Kashmir in the last one week. Also, an Army jawan and a militant were killed in a nine-hour long encounter in Rafiabad area of Baramulla district on Wednesday.