A U.S. drone attack Sunday killed at least seven people in Pakistan, officials said, days before the country's intelligence chief visits Washington with the contentious raids likely to be discussed.
Attacks by unmanned American aircraft are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, which says they violate its sovereignty and fan anti-U.S. sentiment, but U.S. officials are said to believe the attacks are too important to give up, AFP reported.
Drone strikes are likely to be a major issue when Pakistan's intelligence chief, Lieutenant General Zaheer ul-Islam, holds talks in Washington on August 1 to 3 with his CIA counterpart.
In Sunday's attack, the second in the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, missiles struck a compound in Khushhali Turikhel village of the troubled North Waziristan tribal district, which lies on the border with Afghanistan.
"US drones fired six missiles into a militant compound. At least seven militants were killed," a security official told AFP.
Khushhali Turikhel lies around 35 kilometers (20 miles) east of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.
Local residents said that the airstrike sparked a huge fire in the building.
Despite Pakistani government’s repeated calls on Washington to end the drone attacks, the U.S. government continues its strikes on the tribal regions of the country.
Washington claims its drone strikes target militants, although casualty figures clearly indicate that Pakistani civilians are the main victims of the non-UN-sanctioned attacks.
More than 200 people have died in drone attacks in Pakistan's northwest tribal regions since the beginning of this year.
The killing of Pakistani civilians, including women and children, in the U.S. drone strikes has strained relations between Islamabad and Washington, prompting Pakistani officials to send warnings to the U.S. administration over the assaults.
On January 31, U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed that the United States uses the drones in Pakistan and other countries.
In reply to questions about the use of the assassination drones by his administration in a chat with web users on Google+ and YouTube, the U.S. president said, “a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA” -- Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
The aerial attacks were initiated by former U.S. President George W. Bush but have been escalated under Obama.