U.S. drone strike kills 4 militants in north-western Pakistan

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:20am BST

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MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (Reuters) - A U.S. drone strike killed four suspected militants and wounded three others on Friday in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border, intelligence officials and militants said.

The remotely piloted aircraft targeted a residential compound used by militants in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, a Pakistan Taliban commander told Reuters.

"The four dead are local Taliban militants," an intelligence official told Reuters.

The controversial drone program, a key element in U.S. counter-terrorism efforts, is highly unpopular in Pakistan, where it is considered a violation of sovereignty which causes many civilian casualties.

The United States says the strikes in Pakistan's unruly northwestern tribal regions along the Afghan border are very accurate, and there is minimal collateral damage.

Several militant groups have strongholds in the area, and often take advantage of the porous frontier to launch cross-border attacks on NATO and Afghan forces.

A Pakistani parliamentary committee recently demanded an end to drone strikes on Pakistani territory as part of its recommendations for how its relationship with Washington should change.

(Reporting by Haji Mujtaba in MIRANSHAH and Saud Mehsud in DERA ISMAIL KHAN; Writing by Mahawish Rezvi and Qasim Nauman; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Daniel Magnowski)

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