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15 Militants Killed in Clashes in Pakistan

Pakistani officials say security forces backed by helicopter gunships have killed at least 15 suspected militants in clashes near the Afghan border.

Officials said Monday at least one soldier has been wounded in the gunbattles that erupted over the past two days in Bajaur, an ethnic tribal region that has been a Taliban stronghold.

The clashes broke out after a suicide bomber killed at least 16 people Saturday at a security checkpoint in Bajaur.

Pakistan's military began a major offensive against insurgents in the region in 2008.

Since then, the military has said at various times that it had largely cleared the region of militants, but sporadic fighting has continued.

Fighting has intensified in recent months, forcing Pakistani security officials to launch new operations.

Pakistani security forces also say they have arrested seven suspects while three suspected militants have voluntarily surrendered over the past 24 hours during military operations in the Swat Valley region.

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