'At least three killed' in US drone attack in Pakistan

Predator B drone (November 2011)
Image caption US officials argue that drones are a vital weapon in the war against Islamist militants around the world

At least three suspected militants have been killed by a US drone strike near the Pakistani border with Afghanistan, security officials say.

The attack happened near the town of Datta Khel in the North Waziristan tribal region 35km (22 miles) west of Miranshah on Thursday night.

The area is a stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Covert drone strikes are publicly criticised by the Pakistani government as a violation of its sovereignty.

However correspondents say the US could not launch such attacks without tacit support from Pakistan.

US officials argue that they are a vital weapon in the war against Islamist militants.

"Four drones came to the area around midnight and fired two missiles targeting a militant vehicle," a local security official told the AFP news agency.

Officials say that the nationalities and identities of the men killed in the attack is not known as their bodies were beyond recognition.

A UN envoy last week said that US drone attacks "involve the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent".

Speaking after a research trip to Pakistan, UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson said that Islamabad does not consent to them and sees them as a territorial violation.

It is estimated that between 2004 and 2013, CIA drone attacks in Pakistan killed up to 3,460 people.

About 890 of them were civilians and the vast majority of strikes were carried out under the President Barack Obama's administration, the Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said.

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