Anti-terror operation in Shopian is the first major security operation in Kashmir since last year. (File)
A civilian was killed and two soldiers were injured as terrorists ambushed an army patrol in south Kashmir's Shopian, where a huge anti-terror operation across villages and orchards was in progress. The attack came around 7 pm as the day-long operation -- monitored from air by helicopters and unmanned vehicles -- was winding up.
Officials said the man who died was the driver of a private vehicle that was requisitioned for today's operation. Nazir Ahmad Sheikh died on the spot as his vehicle came under heavy fire while on its way back. The injured soldiers are stable. Officials said men were saved because they were wearing bullet-proof jackets and helmet. The driver had no protective gear.
This was the first major security operation in Kashmir this year. Such operations had been stopped last year during the five-month protests following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani.
During that period, more than 100 young men from the area joined the terrorists, the police said. Parts of south Kashmir became the stronghold of heavily armed terrorists, who openly roamed the countryside.
But police say more than the number of terrorists, it is the massive public support for them that is seen as a bigger problem for the security forces. This became clear as troops encountered resistance from crowds while conducting anti-terror operations in the area.
Even today, people in at least four villages clashed with the security forces. But police said the protests were negligible compared to the magnitude and scale of the operation, which involved a cordon-and-search movement across two dozen villages, orchards and forest areas. Sources said more than 3,000 personnel of the Army, Central Reserve Police Force and Jammu and Kashmir police were involved.
More than killing or arresting terrorists, today's operation was more about engaging in a hostile atmosphere, sources said.