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Militants strike during massive op to flush out ultras in Shopian

Massive door-to-door search operation conducted for 1st time since ’90s in Kashmir

Militants attacked an army patrol leaving a civilan dead and two personnel injured during a massive operation involving 4,000 troops initiated today by the security forces to clear South Kashmir of terrorists.

Door-to-door search of houses, a practice stopped in the late 1990s, was reintroduced with security forces comprising army, police and CRPF personnel marching into more than a dozen villages in Shopian district, about 55 km from here, for ‘Operation Clean Up’ this morning, while helicopters and drones hovered over the area.

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

After a 12-hour dawn to dusk operation, the militants struck when army troops were carrying out a “reverse sweep” of Chowdari Gund and Kellar area of Shopian this evening, official sources said.

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

They said the militants had laid an ambush and fired indiscriminately when the troops approached the village looking for militants.

Two jawans and a civilian, who was passing by, were injured. The civilian later succumbed to injuries. The troops returned the 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. However, no arrests were made during the search.

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), wer

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