Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships and artillery killed at least 24 militants with links to Al-Qaeda in a tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said on Monday. The clashes occurred on Sunday in the Bajaur region, where Pakistani security forces launched a major offensive against Islamic militants in August. "Helicopter gunships and artillery pounded hideouts of militants on Sunday, killing at least 24 rebels and wounding 10 others," a security official said. He said that the shelling which began Sunday afternoon continued into the early hours of Monday. "At least four militants and two locals were also killed in an exchange of fire between a tribal lashkar (army) and rebels on Sunday in Bajaur," the official said. The tribal army was formed last week to take action against militants hiding in the area, whom local tribesmen say are undermining their power structure.