Home / Politics / Policy /  Militants attack army patrol during search operation in South Kashmir, civilian dead

Srinagar: Militants on Thursday attacked an army patrol in Shopian, Jammu and Kashmir, leaving a civilian dead and two personnel injured. The army patrol was part of a massive operation involving 4,000 troops to clear South Kashmir of terrorists.

The militants struck when army troops were carrying out a “reverse sweep" of Chowdari Gund and Kellar area of Shopian on Thursday evening, people aware of the development said.

Reverse sweep is a term used by army in which they carry out a surprise check of a location after having an initial round earlier in the day.

The people quoted above said the militants had laid an ambush and fired indiscriminately when the troops approached the village looking for militants. Two soldiers and a civilian, who was passing by, were injured. The civilian later succumbed to injuries.

The troops returned fire besides alerting other teams who laid a cordon around the spot.

The cordon and search operation (CASO) followed intelligence inputs about the presence of militants, including foreign terrorists, in the area, an official said.

Thursday morning’s army patrol, called ‘Operation Clean Up’, involved door-to-door search of houses in more than a dozen villages of Shopian district, about 55 km from Srinagar, and saw participation of army, Jammu and Kashmir police and CRPF personnel.

The troops asked all villagers to assemble in a common area so a proper search of their homes could be carried out. “We do not wish to have any civilian casualty and the measure was therefore required," said a senior army official engaged in the operation. Aiding the security forces, which included a team of concealed anti terrorists (CAT), were drones providing real- time intelligence to the troops.

However, no arrests were made during the search.

Barring a minor stone-pelting incident at Turkawangan village, the combing operation went on smoothly, an official said. In Delhi, Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat indicated said that security forces had beefed up counter-infiltration postures in Jammu and Kashmir. Rawat was in Srinagar on a two-day visit earlier this week.

After carrying out a search operation, security forces carried out a “reverse sweep" of the entire region to ensure that none of the militants had slipped in after the earlier cordon ended. It was at this time that the militants struck the patrol.

The ‘Operation Clean Up’, launched after a spate of militant attacks in the region, was perhaps the biggest in more than a decade in the Kashmir Valley, an army official said on the condition of anonymity.

There has been an increase in militant activities in South Kashmir with incidents of policemen being killed and banks being looted. The operation comes four days after militants killed seven people, including five policemen, in adjoining Kulgam.

Recently, videos of large groups of militants—in some cases, as many as 30—have surfaced on social media, despite the ban imposed by authorities on 22 such sites and mobile apps.

Security agencies believe that these videos were shot in South Kashmir, especially Shopian district.

Meanwhile, local Congress leaders alleged that security forces ransacked houses and other civilian properties during the search operation in Shopian. A PCC statement, quoting party leaders Abdul Qayoom Shah and Mushtaq Ahmad Khanday, condemned the “harassment" of common innocent people.

Separatists also condemned the “excessive force and crackdown" in South Kashmir. Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik in a joint statement asked people to hold peaceful protest after congregational prayers on Friday.

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