PESHAWAR - At least seven suspected militants including a commander of Haqqani network were killed in a US drone strike in Birmil tehsil of South Waziristan on Thursday.

According to reports, it was early in the morning when a US drone fired at least two missiles at a militant compound in Nargas village of Birmil tehsil, some 30 kilometres west of Wana, headquarters of South Waziristan near Afghan border.

The targeted compound was destroyed completely. Besides, at least seven militants including a commander of Haqqani network were killed and three others reportedly injured. A militant of Arab origin was also among the dead, another report said.

Sources said commander Abdullah Haqqani, affiliated with Haqqani group, was killed in drone hit.

Agencies add: Officials and a militant source said four foreigners and an important commander from the ruthless Haqqani network, which is blamed for numerous bloody attacks in Afghanistan, were among those killed.  “At least seven militants were killed in the drone strike,” an intelligence official based in Wana told AFP, adding that the dead included four foreigners and a top Haqqani commander.

“Abdullah Haqqani (the commander) was responsible for sending suicide bombers to Afghanistan,” the official said.

Another official in the neighbouring garrison town of Bannu confirmed the death toll and killing of the commander.

A source in a militant group said that a vehicle loaded with arms and ammunition was also destroyed in the attack.

The US drone strikes are widely unpopular in Pakistan and are seen as a violation of national sovereignty. Washington has long used them to target militants in Fata.

Pakistan on Thursday strongly condemned the recent drone attack in South Waziristan and said that such attacks are violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

 Time and again Islamabad condemned such strike, but to no avail.

South Waziristan is one of the seven lawless tribal districts of Pakistan that border Afghanistan.

These semi-autonomous areas have for years been a hideout for militants of all stripes - including Al-Qaeda and the homegrown Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as well as foreign fighters such as Uzbeks and Uighurs.

Washington pressed Islamabad for years to wipe out the sanctuaries in the North Waziristan tribal area, which militants have used to launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani military launched a major offensive in North Waziristan in June and say they have killed more than 1,100 militants so far, with 100 soldiers losing their lives in the operation.

The area is off-limits to journalists, making it impossible to independently verify the number and identity of the dead.

The army assault was launched after a dramatic attack by militants on Karachi airport, which killed dozens of people and marked the end of faltering peace talks between the government and the Pakistani Taliban.

Pakistan routinely protests against US drone strikes, which have been targeting militants in the tribal areas since 2004, saying they violate its sovereignty and are counterproductive in the fight against terror.

But most analysts believe the resumption of the drone programme after it was suspended at the start of the year - reportedly to give Pakistan space for negotiations with the Taliban - is evidence of collusion between the two countries.

The Islamabad government and military officials strongly deny this.