MIRANSHAH, PAKISTAN (BNO NEWS) -- A U.S. drone strike struck a suspected militant compound in Pakistan's volatile tribal region on late Tuesday, killing at least five people believed to be militants and injuring three others, Pakistani intelligence officials said on Wednesday.
The latest attack was carried out on Tuesday evening when an unmanned U.S. drone fired two missiles at a suspected militant hideout in the Shawal area, which is located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Miranshah, the main town of Pakistan's volatile North Waziristan tribal area, which is also near the Afghan border.
Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the U.S. operation targeted a building where militants loyal to local warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is believed to be allied with the Afghan Taliban, were hiding. "The compound was completely destroyed by the missiles," the official said.
The intelligence officials said five suspected militants were killed and three others were injured, but their nationalities and affiliation were not immediately known. It was not possible to independently verify the figures provided by the officials, but there were no immediate claims that civilians were among the casualties.
Earlier this month, al-Qaeda deputy leader Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed when an unmanned U.S. drone fired at least two missiles at a compound and a nearby pickup truck in the village of Hesokhel, located in the Mir Ali district just east of Miranshah. It was the most serious blow to al-Qaeda since U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden during a secret military operation in the Pakistani city of Abbotabad in May 2011.
The Pakistani government strongly condemned the drone strikes, calling them unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. Pakistan's foreign ministry summoned U.S. Charge d'Affairs Ambassador Richard Hoagland following the incident, informing him once again that the U.S. drone strikes are a "clear red-line" for Pakistan.
Pakistani officials have repeatedly described the U.S. drone attacks as illegal. Pakistani President Asif Zardari has expressed the need to establish alternative security operations to the drone strikes, but U.S. officials have indicated that they will continue to carry out drone strikes to take out militants.
Few details about casualties from the strikes are usually available, but allegations of civilian casualties regularly spark protests in Pakistan. According to the Washington-based think tank New America Foundation, as many as 2,680 individuals were killed as a result of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan between 2004 and early 2012.
In January, U.S. President Barack Obama, for the first time during his presidency, publicly acknowledged that U.S. drones regularly strike suspected militants along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He confirmed that many of these strikes are carried out in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, targeting al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects in tough terrain.
The U.S. considers the Pakistan-Afghan border to be the most dangerous place on Earth. The area is known to be a stronghold of the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network, which is one of the top terrorist organizations and threats to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.
But controversy has surrounded the drone strikes as local residents and officials have blamed them for killing innocent civilians and motivating young men to join the Taliban. Details about the alleged militants are usually not provided, and the U.S. government does not comment on the strikes.
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