ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR - Soldiers battled Taliban militants in towns in Swat on Tuesday as the security forces killed 16 more miscreants as part of the Operation Rah-e-Rast, an ISPR update said on Tuesday. Soldiers are advancing on the Valleys towns, including Mingora, from different directions after they finished the first part of the operation. According to the update, an officer and three soldiers have embraced shahadat and 16 others, including an officer, have been injured in clashes with the miscreants in different parts of Malakand Division during the last 24 hours. In Peochar, the security forces are consolidating their positions and one soldier was injured while two miscreants were killed during clashes there. As far as the situation in Matta is concerned, security forces surrounded the area and conducted search operations inside the town. An exchange of fire also took place between the security forces and miscreants there, in which resultantly, an officer (Maj Abid) and a soldier embraced shahadat while seven soldiers sustained injuries near Nazarabad, north of Matta, the ISPR said. The troops have successfully cleared more than 40 houses in Kanju and an area ahead of Takhtaband Bridge, where fierce clashes are taking place. Some 14 miscreants have been killed during exchange of fire with security forces at Takhtaband, while two soldiers have embraced shahadat and eight others have been injured, the update added. It also said that operation to clear Sultanwas in Buner was continuing where the security forces were conducting cordon and search operations in various parts. Agencies add: closing in on the Taliban strongholds in the troubled northwest, soldiers were also encircling the Taliban-infested Mingora town as they engaged the militants in fierce street battles in the region. Talking to a private TV channel, Pakistan Army spokesman said the extremists are getting support from Afghan Taliban. Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said that Afghan militants were supplying arms to Pakistani militants lined up against the security forces. He said the insurgency could be effectively countered by cutting the supply routes being used by these militants. He said the PAF has been requisitioned to hit high-value targets in conflict zone. Troops were also in, or advancing on, the towns of Kanju and Takhtaband, the military said, adding that there were fierce clashes in the Taliban-held town of Matta, as well as in Kanju, which is a short distance from Mingora, with four soldiers and 14 insurgents killed in the two towns. According to reports, the troops have cut off Taliban supply lines to Mingora, while they were continuing advance on several fronts towards this strategic city. Footage broadcast on private television channel showed armed soldiers standing outside locked shops in the main bazaar in Matta, a bastion of Maulana Fazlullah. Troops continue to close in on Mingora, from where Taliban are trying to escape but our strategy is not to let them flee, a security official said. He said the chief objective in the coming days was to take over the Talibans main headquarters in Peochar, where commandos opened a new front last week. Intense battles were also reported in Takhtaband, described as the main Taliban supply route. Our Staff Reporter from Peshawar adds: At least 13 Taliban have been killed and several others injured while seven militants, including five foreigners, have been arrested from Mohmand Agency, official sources disclosed on Tuesday. According to the officials, the 13 militants were killed when a clash took place between them and the security forces at Halimzai, a Thesil of Mohmand Agency. A vehicle of the militants was also destroyed in the incident, sources added. Meanwhile, security forces arrested seven militants from Khapakh area, the agencys political administration officials informed. They said that the security forces personnel at Khapakh Check-Post, near Pak-Afghan border, noticed suspicious movement of a vehicle carrying seven burqa-clad persons to Mohmand Agency from Afghanistan. The security personnel chased the vehicle and arrested all the seven persons, including five foreigners, aboard. All the burqa-clad persons were men, the officials said. Later, they were shifted to an unknown location for interrogation. The officials also informed that three of the five foreigners, namely Ali, Khalid and Mohammad were Saudi nationals, one Abdullah was from Libya and Habibullah was an Afghan national. The officials further said that passports and other documents have been recovered from the arrested persons.