MIRANSHAH, Pakistan - US drone aircraft struck a militant hideout in northwest Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan on Monday, killing at least 12 suspected militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The drones fired several missiles at a compound in the Shawal area of the North Waziristan tribal region. Two suspected militants were wounded in the strike, officials added.

Shawal is a remote area of forested ridges and valleys that spreads out on both sides of the border and has long been known as a haven for militants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and beyond.

The controversial drone program, a key element in US counterterrorism efforts, is highly unpopular in Pakistan where it is considered a violation of sovereignty which causes unacceptable civilian casualties.