(Reuters) - A suspected U.S. drone strike killed at least five militants in a Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Thursday, with local villagers saying the dead included of a senior Arab commander.
U.S. drone strikes have escalated this month, hitting targets in tribal areas several times a week, but the latest strike comes just days after U.S. and British combat troops in neighboring Afghanistan officially ended their operations.
"The bodies were taken to an unknown location after the attack. We heard from local militants that there was a senior Arab commander but they didn't mention his name," said one villager in South Waziristan.
Another villager, who also spoke anonymously, said a number of "foreign guests" were staying in the targeted house after fleeing a major military offensive in the tribal region of North Waziristan.
Drone strikes stopped while the Pakistani government pursued ultimately fruitless peace talks with the Taliban insurgency but resumed four days before the military announced an anti-Taliban offensive in North Waziristan in June.
Death tolls from drone strikes are often disputed and North Waziristan, a mountainous region along the Afghan border, is currently off limits to journalists. The Taliban also seal the sites of many strikes.
Foreign militants including al Qaeda-linked Arabs and Uzbeks are holed up in the remote mountains on the Afghan border alongside their Pashtun Taliban hosts, planning and staging attacks together.
(Reporting Hafiz Wazir, Jibran Ahmad and Saud Mehsud; Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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