India troops launch major crackdown against Kashmir rebels

Indian troops have launched a major operation in southern parts of disputed Kashmir to root out rebels fighting against India's rule in the Himalayan region.

Thousands of India's military, paramilitary and police early Thursday cordoned off at least two dozen villages in Shopian area and began searching house-to-house looking for militants.

Police say troops are facing some resistance from residents and clashes have erupted in at least two villages.

The vast area of Shopian, known for its apple orchards, has emerged as one of the militants' hotbeds after Indian forces killed a popular rebel leader last year. Police say dozens of local youth have joined rebel ranks in these villages.

India and Pakistan administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the territory in its entirety.