MIRAMSHAH, July 6: Twenty people were killed and four others injured when missiles fired by US drones slammed into a residential compound in North Waziristan on Friday night, three days after Pakistan reopened Nato supply routes to Afghanistan.

According to sources, six missiles hit the fortress-like residence of tribesman Muhammad in Zoi Nari locality of tehsil Dattakhel at around 8:45pm.

Local people rushed to the site of the attack and started rescue work while drones continued to hover over the area. They retrieved 17 bodies and two injured persons from the rubble of the house.

At about 10:30pm, the drones fired another two missiles on the compound, some 35km from the agency’s headquarters of Miramshah, when tribesmen were still carrying out rescue work. Three people died and two others were injured in the attack.

Local tribesmen feared the number of the people killed or injured might go up because they had to stop work due to the hovering drones. They said most of the bodies retrieved were mutilated beyond recognition.

Other sources said most of the dead were militants.

They suspected that the house, completely destroyed in the attack, was being used by militants.

It was the first drone attack since the US and Pakistani authorities reached an agreement to reopen Nato supply routes Pakistan had closed after a US air raid on the Salala checkpost in Mohmand tribal Agency along Afghanistan border killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The government and opposition parties and tribal people wanted the resumption of Nato supply routes linked to suspension of drone attacks. The parliament had also demanded a halt to the raids. The fresh attacks will certainly provide religious groups and opposition parties ammunition to assail the government for deciding to reopen the routes without obtaining such an assurance from the United States.