A Pakistani protester belonging to United Citizen Action holds a burning US flag during a protest in Multan on August 19, 2012 against the US drone attacks in Pakistani tribal areas.

Miranshah, Pakistan -

A US drone strike destroyed a militant compound in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt on Thursday, killing at least four militants, local security officials said.

Four missiles hit the house in Heso Khel village on the edge of Mir Ali town, around 35 kilometres east of Miranshah, the main town in the district of North Waziristan, a notorious stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants.

“A US drone fired four missiles. At least four militants have been killed, the compound was completely destroyed,” a security official based in Miranshah told AFP.

A senior Pakistani security official in the northwestern city of Peshawar confirmed the attack and added that the identity of those killed was not yet known.

Thursday's strike brings to 34 the number of militants reported killed in Pakistan in five drone strikes since January 1.

The covert strikes are publicly criticised by the Pakistani government as a violation of sovereignty but American officials believe they are a vital weapon in the war against Islamist militants.

According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2 627 and 3 457 people have been reportedly killed by US drones in Pakistan since 2004, including between 475 and nearly 900 civilians. - Sapa-AFP