PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Dec 20, 2014 (AFP) - A US drone strike killed at least five militants in Pakistan's restive tribal region near the Afghan border on Saturday, security officials said, warning that the death toll was expected to rise.
The strike occurred in North Waziristan, one of the seven semi-autonomous tribal districts bordering Afghanistan, which is seen as a hub for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.
"A US drone fired two missiles at a compound in Mada Khail neighbourhood of Datta Khail area in North Waziristan killing five militants. The death toll is expected to rise," a senior security official requesting anonymity told AFP.
The incident was confirmed by local intelligence sources.
The area is generally off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to independently verify the number and identity of the dead.
Washington pressed Islamabad for years to wipe out sanctuaries in North Waziristan, which militants have used to launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The army has been waging a major offensive against longstanding Taliban and other militant strongholds in the restive tribal areas on the Afghan border for the last six months.
But a series of fresh strikes after Tuesday's Peshawar attack, which left 149 people dead -- most of them children, suggest the military is stepping up its campaign.
As the Peshawar tragedy unfolded, army chief General Raheel Sharif said the attack had renewed the forces' determination to push for the militants' "final elimination".