A US drone launched a missile attack on a militant compound in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border early today, killing four insurgents, security officials said.
The missiles targeted a house in a market area of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, known as a stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants, they said.
"Two missiles hit a house and four militants were killed," a security official told AFP. "The attack took place at about 3.00 am," he said.
Witnesses said the attack triggered a fire which destroyed the building. The compound is located in the money changers market in the Miranshah commercial district.
An intelligence official also put the toll at four dead and said two people were wounded. He said local people, including Pakistani Taliban, were engaged in rescue work.
Waziristan is the most notorious stronghold of militants in Pakistan's semi-autonomous northwestern tribal belt that Washington considers the premier hub of Taliban and al-Qaeda plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.
Pakistan wants drone strikes to stop, arguing that they are counter-productive because they kill civilians, exacerbate anti-US sentiment and violate sovereignty.
The frequency of such attacks has diminished in recent months, but US officials are believed to consider them too useful in terms of killing al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives to discontinue them altogether.
Pakistan called yesterday for open dialogue with the United States even before parliament wraps up a protracted debate on repairing an anti-terror alliance that nearly ruptured over a series of crises.
US President Barack Obama and Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met on Tuesday at a nuclear summit in Seoul for talks that an Obama aide said "made important progress" in both sides hearing from one another.
On Wednesday, the top US generals overseeing the Afghan war, John Allen and James Mattis, also met Pakistan's army chief Ashfaq Kayani for the first time since US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November.
Those strikes prompted a furious Islamabad to shut Nato supply lines into Afghanistan and evict US personnel from an airbase reportedly used as a hub in America's drone war against militants.