A US drone strike has killed three suspected fighters in an attack on a building in a town close to the Afghan border, Pakistani security officials have said.
The drone fired two missiles on a building in the central market of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan on Thursday, the officials said.
“A US drone fired two missiles on the first floor of a shop in the main market and at least three militants were killed,” a senior official told the AFP news agency.
The strike was the second in the region in less than 24 hours.
There has been a dramatic increase in US drone strikes in Pakistan since a NATO summit in Chicago ended last month without a deal to end a six-month blockade on NATO supplies crossing into Afghanistan.
“When the first missile hit the building, I heard cries for help and ran towards it, but militants stopped me at a distance. When they started rescue work, another missile hit,” a local tribesman said about Thursday’s strike.
“I eventually saw them removing three burnt bodies in a really bad shape. They were put in wooden boxes and taken away,” he told AFP, requesting anonymity, adding that the attacked building was reduced to a pile of rubble.
Pakistani intelligence officials said the identities and nationalities of the men killed were not known. They did not give their names because they were not authorised to speak to the media on the record.
Washington considers Pakistan’s semi-autonomous northwestern tribal belt the main hub of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.
It has pushed on with its drone campaign against suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistani tribal areas, despite Pakistani objections.
The US does not release information on who it is killing, or the criteria used when targetting.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay recently called for a UN investigation into US drone strikes in Pakistan, questioning their legality and saying they kill innocent civilians.
The UN human rights chief provided no statistics but called for an investigation into civilian casualties, which she said were difficult to track.
She said UN chief Ban Ki-moon had urged states to be “more transparent” about circumstances in which drones are used and take necessary precautions to ensure that the attacks involving drones comply with applicable international law.