ISLAMABAD — A US drone killed at least four militants in a missile strike Saturday targeting a compound in northwest Pakistan's tribal belt, local security officials said.
The attack took place in the village of Heso Khel about 21 miles east of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan which is a notorious stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaida linked militants.
"At least four militants have been killed and the compound has been completely destroyed," a local security official in Miranshah told AFP.
A second security official in Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, confirmed the attack but said the death toll may rise.
US drone attacks are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, but Washington views them as a vital tool in the fight against Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the lawless tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.
The Pakistani government has repeatedly protested against drone strikes as a violation of its sovereignty and there has been a decrease in their use.
During a visit to Islamabad at the start of August, US Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that drone strikes targeting Taliban and al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan could end "very soon" as the threat of militancy recedes.
Kerry made the remarks in an interview with Pakistan state TV following a day of talks with the newly elected government in Islamabad, which demands that the drone strikes cease.
It was the first time that such a senior US official has indicated that there could be a definitive end to the program, which the CIA has in the past called an effective counter-terrorism weapon.
© AFP 2013