Islamabad: A US drone targeted a compound and a vehicle in the restive North Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least 25 militants of al-Qaeda linked Haqqani network, in the first such attack during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.
    
Eight militants were injured in the attack. They were taken to a hospital in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan Agency.
    
The injured are in a critical condition, said a journalist who visited the hospital. All those killed in the strike were members of the Haqqani network, led by Afghan warlord Sirajuddin Haqqani, said local journalists.
    
US and Afghan officials blame the Haqqani network for cross-border attacks on NATO and allied forces in Afghanistan. The CIA-operated pilotless aircraft fired two missiles at the compound and vehicle at Kharunai, a small village located a kilometre from Miranshah.
    
The attack was carried out when the militants were having 'sehri', the pre-dawn meal before fasting begins. Security sources said the militants had arrived at the compound late last night.
    
Afghan and Pakistani militants arrived at the scene after the drones left the area and pulled bodies and the injured from the rubble of the destroyed compound.
    
They did not allow local residents to approach the site.

On Wednesday's strike was one of the deadliest in years in North Waziristan, which the US has described as the main base for al-Qaeda and Taliban elements. Pakistan is under mounting pressure from the US to launch an operation against foreign and local militants in North Waziristan.
    
North Waziristan borders three eastern provinces of Afghanistan – Khost, Paktiya and Paktika – where fighters of the Haqqani network are active.
    
The network was named after Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former jehadi leader who served as a minister in Taliban regime during 1996-2001.
    
Haqqani's son Sirajuddin, wanted by the US, now heads the group which the CIA says has made North Waziristan its main base.
    
The drone strike came at a time when relations between the US and Pakistan are at a new low. Pakistan publicly opposes drone strikes in its tribal belt, describing them as counterproductive in the war against militants.
    
However, CIA and top US defence officials have ruled out any change in the drone campaign.
    
US officials insist drone attacks are effective in the war against militants as several key al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders – including the founder of the Pakistani Taliban movement, Baitullah Mehsud – have been killed in these strikes.
    
Pakistani tribesmen say that a majority of the victims are civilians.

(Agencies)