Pakistanis are critical of the drone attacks because of the occurrence of civilian casualties [EPA]

A suspected US drone attack has killed at least four fighters in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt near the Afghan border, officials have said.

The missiles hit Newey Adda village in North Waziristan's Datta Khel area on Sunday.

Pakistani intelligence officials said the target was a ring associated with a warlord who is fighting
Western troops in Afghanistan.

"A US drone fired two missiles. The target was a house used by militants as a compound," a senior
security official in Peshawar told AFP news agency.

Another intelligence official in Miranshah said there were two "guests" among the dead. Guest is a term used for foreign fighters.

Some injured people had been taken to an unknown location for medical treatment, residents said.

String of attacks

Last week, a total of 24 fighters were reported killed in four similar raids in 24 hours in the same tribal district.

There were at least four other attacks earlier in the week.

Washington has branded the rugged area on the Afghan border a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous place on earth.

Most of the missile raids in the area are believed to be fired from unmanned, remote-controlled US planes that can hover for hours above the area.

As a rule the US military does not confirm drone attacks, but its armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy pilotless drones in the
region.

Pakistan has condemned the American missile strikes as violations of its sovereignty, saying that the civilian casualties they cause deepen anti-US sentiment and complicate the fight against terrorism.

But many suspect the two countries have a deal allowing the drone-fired attacks to continue.

The frequency of civilian deaths is highly disputed. According to statistics compiled by Pakistani authorities, more than 90 per cent of the more than 700 people killed in attacks targeting the tribal areas in 2009 were civilians.

Source: Agencies