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Pakistani panel questions bin Laden family

ISLAMABAD - An independent Pakistani commission investigating the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden questioned three detained widows and two daughters of the slain al Qaeda leader, a government statement said Wednesday.

The commission also interviewed Pakistani spy chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha and a doctor accused of helping American intelligence run a phony vaccination program that tried to obtain a DNA sample from bin Laden and his family, the statement said.

Investigators interviewed Pasha, who heads the country's powerful spy agency, known as the Inter-Services Intelligence, on Wednesday, and planned to meet with him again meet with him on Thursday, the commission said, without elaborating.

The women and Dr. Shakil Afridi were questioned on Tuesday.

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Islamabad says that the U.S. special forces raid on May 2 that killed bin Laden violated Pakistan's sovereignty. The Pakistani government set up the panel to probe the raid the in northwestern city of Abbottabad, as well as how bin Laden managed to hide there.

Bin Laden's widows and the accused doctor have been in Pakistani custody since shortly after the raid. So far, the commission has visited bin Laden's compound, and questioned civil and military officials.

In July, Pakistani officials showed willingness to extradite bin Laden's Yemeni-born Amal Ahmed Abdullfattah to her country. But the commission barred Pakistan from extraditing bin Laden family members so that it can question them.

Later, the commission imposed a similar restriction on the doctor after Washington tried to get him released. There has been speculation that Afridi and his family may leave Pakistan if he is freed.

The commission's latest hearing comes at a time of heightened tensions between Pakistan and the United States following a recent claim by top U.S. military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, that Pakistan's main spy agency backed militants who carried out attacks against American targets in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has denied the allegations.

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