Missiles fired by a suspected US drone aircraft have killed at least seven fighters in Pakistan's Pashtun tribal region on the Afghan border, local residents said.
In the early hours of Friday, drones fired two missiles on a compound in the village of Dargah Mandi in North Waziristan, destroying the house and killing seven people.
|US drone strikes in Pakistan have fallen significantly over the past two and a half years [Reuters]
Pakistani security officials said all those who were killed were "militants", with some saying that a key Afghan Haqqani group commander was among those killed.
Sangeen Zadran was a key commander in the Haqqani network, which US officials consider one of the most dangerous factions fighting US troops in Afghanistan. He was staying at a sprawling compound near the border
town of Ghulam Khan in the North Waziristan tribal region when the missiles destroyed it early on Friday morning, officials said.
Several hours after the strike, clerics announced his death over mosque loudspeakers in Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, and urged residents to attend his funeral, witnesses in the town said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
The area where the attack took place is known as a stronghold for the Haqqani network.
US drones have fired missiles into troubled and inaccessible border areas such as North Waziristan, the main stronghold for rebel groups aligned with al-Qaeda and the Taliban, since 2004.
Pakistan has been angered by reports of civilian casualties and what it sees as a violation of its sovereignty, and the United States has reduced their use in recent years.
US drone strikes in Pakistan have fallen compared to the rate over the past two and a half years, totalling 20 this year.
There were 48 in all of 2012 and 73 in 2011, according to a poll kept by the New America Foundation.
It is hard to check their impact on both fighters and civilians because independent observers and journalists have almost no access to the areas where most of the strikes occur.