Peshawar, Pakistan (BBN) – At least 15 militants and a security personnel were killed in clashes in the country’s troubled northwestern Swat Valley on Sunday, the military said.

At least 15 militants were killed and many injured, in an exchange of fire with security forces near Sij Bund, in Matta district, the military said in a press statement. “One security forces personnel also embraced martyrdom.”

The clashes came after pro-Taliban militants in the area claimed responsibility for a bomb blast one day back that killed seven policemen.

The security forces have launched an operation in the former tourist resort in the last week after militants killed three Pakistan intelligence officials and dozens of rebels later attacked a check post.

Pakistan government officials signed a peace deal with the militants in May, 2008 in an attempt to end violence in the region.

Under the deal, the government agreed to gradually pull out troops and introduce an Islamic justice system. For their part, the rebels had said that they would halt attacks and surrender arms. But clashes that have broken out again recently in the Swat valley threaten the peace deal.

BBN/SI/SI/AD-August08-1:54 AM