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Fighting Intensifies in Northwestern Pakistan, Straining Peace Deal

Pakistani officials say fighting has intensified between government troops and Taliban militants in a northwestern region, further straining a three-month old peace deal.

Officials say Pakistani soldiers killed seven militants, including a commander, on Monday in the Buner district of North West Frontier Province. In the nearby Swat Valley, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an ambush on an army convoy that killed a soldier.

The casualties could not be independently confirmed.

Pakistani authorities imposed a curfew on Swat's main town of Mingora Monday, accusing militants of violating the peace deal by attacking security forces and resuming street patrols. But, the Pakistani military said it would honor the peace deal by exercising restraint in Swat.

Under the deal, Pakistani authorities agreed to impose Islamic law in Swat and other parts of the Malakand region in return for an end to insurgent violence.

Pakistani troops launched an offensive against the Taliban last month after militants in Swat tried to impose their strict brand of Islam on Buner, 100 kilometers from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

The Taliban accuses Pakistan's government of violating the peace deal by attacking militants. The Islamist group also rejects the government's creation of an Islamic court in Malakand on Saturday, saying it was not consulted.

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