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Iran Press TV

Indian troops launch major anti-militant operation in Kashmir

Iran Press TV

Thu May 4, 2017 1:32PM

Thousands of Indian soldiers and paramilitaries have launched a huge operation against suspected militants across Indian-controlled Kashmir.

S P Pani, deputy inspector general of police, said on Thursday that government forces had surrounded at least 20 villages in the drive against militants across the Muslim-majority region.

"It is an unprecedented operation," the police official said, adding, "It is impossible to capture the militants, but we hope there will be contact (exchange of fire) with them in the course of the day."

The operation was launched early Thursday in Shopian district south of the main city of Srinagar.

Meanwhile, witnesses and local residents have accused Indian troops of attacking private homes during the large-scale offensive.

Hundreds of residents poured out into the streets in the two villages of Sug and Tarkwangan during the ongoing search operations. The angry residents clashed with Indian soldiers and threw stones at them.

"It was scary. Many houses were damaged," media outlets quoted one of the residents as saying.

Witnesses said military helicopters were hovering above the disputed valley as the search was going on.

Indian troops are in constant clashes with militants in Kashmir seeking independence.

Suspected militants are frequently killed in shoot-outs with Indian forces across the region, but are only rarely captured alive.

The latest operation comes after five police officers were shot dead earlier this week in a raid on a bank van carrying cash. The attack took place in the village of Pumbai in Kulgam district, around 70 kilometers south of Srinagar.

Last week, militants also killed three Indian troopers in a pre-dawn assault on a garrison near the de-facto border known as the Line of Control (LoC), which divides Kashmir between two arch rivals, India and Pakistan.

The Muslim-majority region has witnessed an increase in mass protests and violent attacks since early July 2016, when Burhan Wani, a top figure in a pro-independence group, was killed in a shootout with Indian troops.

Nearly 100 people have lost their lives and more than 12,000 have been injured in the ensuing crackdown.

In recent months, the use of pellet guns by Indian forces in Kashmir has drawn widespread criticism as the weapons have caused permanent disabilities among victims.

The crackdown has failed to halt the protests against the Indian rule in Kashmir.

The region is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan since the two partitioned and gained independence from Britain in 1947. The two countries have fought three wars over the disputed territory.

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