A cordon and search operation in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district on Wednesday was called off to avoid a face-off with the civilian protesters.

Police said the cordon and search operation started in two villages of Heff and Shirmaal was called off in order to avoid civilian casualties or injuries.

Over 1,000 security men including the Army, the paramilitary and state police had surrounded the villages following information that militants were hiding there.

As the security forces tightened the cordon, a mob started intense stone pelting to disrupt the search.

Tear smoke shells were used to quell the protesters, but the operation was finally called off, sources said.

This was the second such massive search operation in south Kashmir in May.

On May 4, over 3,000 security men had carried out another similar operation in 20 villages of Kulgam district.

Shopian and its neighbouring Kulgam district have turned out to be new breeding ground for militants since last year after the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani.

Bank robberies were also committed in the south Kashmir district — home to some 266,000 people.