Jammu: Terrorists ambush Army convoy in J&K’s Shopian, some soldiers injured and exchange of fire in progress. Earlier, Thousands of security forces cordoned off at least two dozen villages in southern Kashmir on Thursday while they hunted for separatist militants believed to be hiding in the area, but called off the operation after about 10 hours without finding any, police said.
They said the operation, launched after a spate of militant attacks and anti-India protests, was the biggest in recent years in the disputed Kashmir region. Army soldiers, paramilitary forces and police searched house-to-house for militants believed hiding in the Shopian area, known for its vast apple orchards. Helicopters and drones hovered over the villages while ground forces stood guard at village entry points. Schools were closed early.
Senior police officer S.P. Pani said the troops didn’t find any militants. “Still, it was a successful operation as we could sweep through so many villages with a bare minimum of local resistance.”
Another officer who was part of the operation and spoke on customary condition of anonymity said the troops were lifting their siege of the Shopian villages and were shifting to the neighbouring Kulgam area.
Both Shopian and Kulgam have become militant hotbeds in the past year since Indian forces killed a popular militant leader Burhan Wani. Burhan’s death triggered a massive surge in anti-India protests in the mostly Muslim region, and police say dozens of young people from these areas have joined the militant ranks.
Last week, several videos showing about 30 militants with rifles marching through an apple orchard appeared on social media sites despite a ban imposed by Indian authorities on 22 such sites and applications. Police said they believed the militants were in Shopian, where several banks were also recently looted in attacks blamed on militants.
Meanwhile, students chanted slogans and threw rocks at government forces, who responded with tear gas in the northwestern town of Sopore, as students continued protests for a third week. At least 10 students were reported injured.
Young students in school uniforms have clashed increasingly with government forces across Kashmir after troops raided a college in the southern town of Pulwama last month.