A suspected US drone strike has killed at least 17 people and wounded many others in Pakistan's restive border region, local security officials said.

Wednesday's attack is the biggest this year and the second since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office.

According to the intelligence sources the drone has targeted one of the Haqqani's compound in Darpakhel area of the North Waziristan.

Most of those killed were fighters for the Haqqani network, according to three Taliban commanders and security officials.

Many were wounded in the attack, local tribesman Kaleemullah Dawar said, but rescuers delayed for fear of falling victim to a second attack, a common tactic with drone strikes.

"It was not possible for the people to start rescue work for some time, as the drones were still flying over the area," Dawar said.

US officials consider the Haqqani network to be one of the most dangerous "militant" factions fighting American troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The leadership of the Haqqani network pledges allegiance to Taliban chief Mullah Omar but operates fairly independently.

Pakistan furious reaction

The Government of Pakistan condemned the attack saying “these strikes are a violation of country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Islamabad said that drone strikes entail loss of innocent civilian lives and have a negative impact on the cooperative relationship between Pakistan and US.

The drone attack was the second since Sharif took office as prime minister following his victory in May elections. A drone strike in May killed the Pakistani Taliban's second-in-command and six others.

Sharif has called for an immediate end to US drone strikes on the grounds they breach of Pakistan's sovereignty.

US officials rarely provide details publicly about the covert CIA drone programme in Pakistan.

Washington views it as a vital tool in the fight against armed groups Taliban and Al-Qaeda, believed to be holed up in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas.

Source: Agencies