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“US drones fired four missiles on two militant vehicles in the early hours of Sunday, killing four militants,” a Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.  He said there were up to five drones flying in the area at the time of the attack. - File Photo

MIRAMSHAH:At least two militants were killed on Sunday in the third drone attack in the past 24 hours in North Waziristan.

Missiles for the third time targeted the Shawal area of North Waziristan, killing two militants while officials said that the death toll could increase.

“At least two militants were killed and two others wounded when a US drone fired two missiles at the site of this morning's attack where militants were removing the wreckage of their two destroyed vehicles,” a security official told AFP.

Another security official confirmed the attack and casualties.

The Shawal district of North Waziristan region is considered a bastion of Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants.

Earlier today, Pakistani intelligence officials said missiles fired from unmanned American spy planes hit two vehicles near the Afghan border, killing at least seven militants.

Three intelligence officials said the strike on Sunday came in the Mana area of North Waziristan.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

The officials said the area is dominated by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a commander whose forces often target US troops in Afghanistan, but they did not know whether his men were targeted.

The first strike which targeted a compound had killed at least six militants in Shuwedar village in Shawal district on Saturday.

Pakistan had strongly protested the US drone attacks in North Waziristan on Saturday morning.

It was the fourth drone attack since the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramazan and the second since Pakistan’s spymaster, Lieutenant General Zaheer ul-Islam, visited Washington earlier this month.

Islam's talks with his CIA counterpart were also said to have focused on drone strikes.

Attacks by unmanned American aircraft are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, which says they violate its sovereignty and fan anti-US sentiment, but US officials are said to believe the attacks are too important to give up.

The latest attacks were in the same region where a drone strike on June 4 killed 15 militants, including senior al-Qaeda figure Abu Yahya al-Libi.

In protest at US drone attacks, local Taliban and Pakistani warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur have banned vaccinations in North and South Waziristan, putting 240,000 children in the region at risk.

They have condemned the immunisation campaign as a cover for espionage. In May, a Pakistani doctor was jailed for 33 years after helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination programme as cover.

There has been a dramatic increase in US drone strikes in Pakistan since May, when a Nato summit in Chicago could not strike a deal to end a six-month blockade on convoys transporting supplies to coalition forces in Afghanistan.

On July 3 however, Islamabad agreed to end the blockade after the United States apologised for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in botched air strikes last November.