By Carlo Muñoz - 03/22/13 04:13 PM EDT
The individuals were traveling in Datta Khel when their vehicle was hit by a missile strike from an America drone, Pakistani officials told The New York Times.
That said, “You don’t find vehicles moving around so late at night in this part of the region,” the official added.
U.S. intelligence officials have disputed the death toll from Thursday's strike, claiming only one individual was killed after the armed drone fired two missiles into the vehicle.
More than 80 percent of all U.S. armed drone strikes are targeted in Pakistan and Yemen. The Sahel region is reportedly the home of safe havens for al Qaeda's west African cell and its affiliates on the continent.
The Obama administration claims the controversial counterterrorism tactic has been invaluable to decimating senior leaders within al Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups in those regions.
Thursday's strike comes days after a United Nations officials condemned the American armed drone program, claiming those counterterrorism operations are a direct violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.
"As a matter of international law, the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan is ... being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government," Ben Emmerson, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, said last Friday.
Emmerson is leading a U.N. review of the American armed drone program, based on interviews with local residents and non-governmental organizations in the volatile tribal regions of northwest Pakistan, where most of the strikes are carried out.
Controversy over the U.S. drone program reached a fever pitch this month, when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) filibustered the confirmation of John Brennan to lead the CIA for nearly 13 hours, questioning the legality of the program.
Specifically, Paul demanded answers on whether American drones were authorized to strike inside U.S. borders against terror suspects who happened to be American citizens.
In the end, Attorney General Eric Holder affirmed the administration's armed drone program did not have legal authority to hit targets on U.S. soil.
Brennan, who is seen by many in Washington as one of the key architects of the drone program, was confirmed by the Senate as the new CIA chief on March 7 by a vote of 63-34.