A US drone strike targeting a compound in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal area has killed at least five people, security officials said.
The unmanned aircraft fired two missiles late on Tuesday into a compound in the Shawal area of South Waziristan, around 50 kilometres southwest of Miranshah, the biggest town in the region near the Afghan border.
The area is considered to be a hub of Taliban and al-Qaeda activity.
“At least five militants have been killed and three have been wounded. The compound was completely destroyed,” a senior security official based in Peshawar tol the AFP news agency.
All those killed were fighters linked with local warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, another security official based in Miranshah told AFP.
Bahadur, who is allied with Afghan Taliban, is accused of fighting US-led troops across the border. He last week imposed a ban on anti-polio vaccination teams in protest at US drone strikes, officials said.
Local officials told AFP on Tuesday that they had so far failed to convince him to allow the vaccinations. Bahadur said the ban would remain until the US stops drone attacks in the tribal region.
But Washington considers Pakistan’s semi-autonomous northwestern tribal belt a main hub of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters plotting attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Islamabad is understood to have approved the strikes on al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in the past. But the government has become increasingly energetic in its public opposition as relations with Washington have nosedived. It forced the United States to pull out of its semi-secret drone base in Shamsi last year.
US officials consider the attacks a vital weapon in the war against Islamist extremists, despite concerns from rights activists over civilian casualties.
The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has said that under President Barack Obama one drone strike has hit Pakistan on average every four days.
It said most of the 2,292 to 2,863 people reported to have died were low-ranking fighters, but that only 126 fighters had been named.
It said it had credible reports of between 385 and 775 civilians being killed, including 164 to 168 children.
A New York Times investigation found in May that the Obama administration also had accepted a counting method used by the Central Intelligence Agency that classified any military-age males in the vicinity of a drone strike as combatants.