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The attacks are extremely unpopular in Pakistan, where many people view them as an infringement on Pakistani sovereignty and say too many innocent civilians are killed in the process. Pakistani officials regularly criticize the strikes in public, although the government is known to have secretly supported at least some of the attacks.
Popular politician Imran Khan has been one of the most vocal critics of the strikes. His party runs the government in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and has threatened to block trucks carrying supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan unless the attacks stop.
Officials from parties seen as more sympathetic to the Taliban, including Khan's, criticized Friday's attack, saying it was a deliberate attempt by the U.S. to sabotage the peace process.
Others in Pakistan will likely cheer Mehsud's death because of the pain and suffering he has brought to the country.
The youngest of four children, Mehsud attended school until the 8th grade, when he began pursuing a religious education at an Islamic seminary.
He gained a reputation as a ruthless planner of deadly suicide attacks while serving as the Pakistani Taliban's military chief.
The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center described him as "the self-proclaimed emir of the Pakistani Taliban."
After taking over as the Pakistani Taliban's leader, he tried to internationalize the group's focus. He increased coordination with al-Qaida and Pakistani militants, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and funded the group's many attacks by raising money through extortion, kidnapping and bank robbery.
In November 2008, he offered to take reporters on a ride in a U.S. Humvee seized from a supply truck heading to Afghanistan.
Mehsud was on the FBI's most-wanted terrorist list and has been near the top of the CIA Counterterrorism Center's most-wanted list for his role in the December 2009 suicide bombing that killed seven Americans — CIA officers and their security detail — at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan. The suicide bomber, a Jordanian double agent, was ushered into the military base to brief CIA officers on al-Qaida, and detonated his explosive vest once he got inside the base.
Mehsud later appeared in a prerecorded video alongside the Jordanian, who said he carried out the attack in retribution for the death of another former Pakistani Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed by an American drone in 2009.