A US drone strike in the Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan has killed at least four people, local sources have told Al Jazeera.

The attack took place in the village of Heso Khel about 35km east of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, which is a notorious stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked fighters.

Two missiles hit a house in the town on Saturday morning, local sources said.

A local security official told the AFP news agency that the four people were "militants".

The US drone attacks are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, but Washington views them as a vital tool in the fight against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters 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 in recent months.

During a visit to Islamabad last month, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, suggested that drone strikes targeting Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan could end "very soon" as the threat of insurgency 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 demanded end to the drone strikes.

It was the first time that such a senior US official had indicated that there could be a definitive end to the programme, which the CIA has in the past called an effective counter-terrorism weapon.

Source: Al Jazeera