MIRAMSHAH, June 4: At least 15 suspected militants were killed when a US drone fired missiles on a compound in Heshokhel village in Mirali tehsil of North Waziristan on Monday.

The third drone attack in three days may further strain relations between Pakistan and the US.

Official sources told Dawn in Peshawar that activists of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and foreigners were among the dead. The drone fired four missiles at interval in the pre-dawn attack. The TTP and other militant groups are said to have a strong presence in the Mirali tehsil.

Residents said that the compound which had come under attack was owned by Atta Muhammad.

In the first strike an outhouse in the compound was hit at around 3.30am. According to them, some unknown people, including foreigners, were staying there. Charred bodies were pulled out from the compound comprising six rooms. Atta Muhammad, the owner of the compound, was safe. Witnesses said that a large number of masked men cordoned off the area, retrieved bodies and took them somewhere else for burial.

Agencies add: Local resident Gul Jaan Wazir said the bodies were quickly buried after being pulled out of the rubble. The drone strike destroyed the room in the mud and wooden house where they had all been sleeping, Wazir said.

In the debris, local people found letterheads of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, wooden beds, blankets and mattresses.

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