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Pakistani Forces Clash with Militants in Tribal Area

Pakistani officials say security forces clashed with militants near the Afghan border Saturday, leaving 16 militants and two soldiers dead.

Authorities say troops fought back after more than 60 militants attacked a security post in the Spin Tangi area of the Mohmand tribal district.

The clash in Mohmand came as Pakistani troops battled a fifth consecutive day to take control of the strategic Buner valley, just 100 kilometers from the capital.

Officials say more than 170 militants and at least two police officers have been killed in several days of fighting.

On Saturday, the military said it was clearing bombs laid along one of two main roads it has secured, allowing civilians to travel to Buner's main town of Daggar. The army said it took control of Daggar from militants on Wednesday.

Pakistan launched the offensive after Taliban forces violated a peace deal in the region that required militants to disarm.

Regional authorities held talks Friday with the main negotiator in that deal, hardline Muslim cleric Sufi Mohammad. They said despite the violence, they still hope to implement the deal by establishing Islamic courts throughout the northwest Malakand

Top U.S. officials are welcoming Pakistan's military offensive against Islamic extremists, saying Islamabad realizes the threat posed by the Taliban and has begun to respond.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.