Troops backed by helicopter gunships Sunday killed 13 militants during clashes in a troubled tribal region close to the Afghan border, officials said. The fighting took place early Sunday in Saam and Kangra villages in Orakzai tribal district, where troops have launched a fresh offensive to flush out Taliban insurgents from the area. "At least 13 militants were killed and five others wounded during a search operation followed by a gun battle," local administrative official Sajjad Ahmad told AFP. A paramilitary official in Peshawar confirmed the fighting and casualties, saying helicopters also shelled Taliban hideouts in the same area. Three paramilitary personnel were also wounded in the fighting, he added. No further details of Sunday's clashes were given by either official. The military has announced a running death toll of more than 100 militants in the Orakzai operation since late last month, but the figures cannot be verified independently because access to the remote area is extremely limited.