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Suspected US drone kills 4 militants in Pakistan

Updated 11:55 p.m. ET:

The Associated Press, citing Pakistani intelligence officials, reports the missile attack killed four militants, three of them Arabs.

Original story from Reuters:

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan -- A suspected U.S. drone aircraft fired missiles at a house on the outskirts of the town of Miranshah in the North Waziristan tribal region on Wednesday, killing at least three militants, local intelligence officials said.

There was no independent confirmation of the incident. Militants often dispute official versions of such attacks and death tolls.

This is the first such strike since Nov. 17 last year, and comes at a time when anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan is running high after a Nov. 26 NATO cross-border air attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Drones armed with missiles have played a significant role in U.S. counter-terrorism operations, as the Obama administration winds down the war in Afghanistan, and Washington's focus expands to militant havens in countries including Pakistan.

The United States vacated a remote air base, used to stage classified drone flights against militants, in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province last month. Pakistan had asked U.S. forces to leave the base after the November air strike.

U.S. officials say the unmanned drone programme decimated the central leadership of al Qaeda and put associated militant groups on the defensive.

Many such groups operate in Pakistan's unruly northwestern tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this story.