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Pakistan Extends Hold on bin Laden Widows

The wives and children of former al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden will be held in Pakistani custody a while longer.

A Pakistani official and a lawyer representing one of bin Laden's widows said a Pakistani court issued the ruling Saturday, ordering the family be held until a hearing on March 26.

Pakistani authorities charged the terror mastermind's three widows earlier this month with illegally entering and living in the country. Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said the women were being confined to house arrest.

Legal experts say if the women are found guilty, they could be sent to jail for up to five years.

Pakistan took the al-Qaida leader's wives, two Saudis and a Yemeni, along with their 10 children into custody after U.S. special commandos killed bin Laden in a covert raid on his house in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011.

Government officials previously had said they would repatriate the women to their countries of origin after a government commission probing the bin Laden raid had completed its questioning.

The United States conducted the raid deep into Pakistani territory, about an hour outside the capital Islamabad, without Pakistan's knowledge or cooperation.

While the operation was hailed as a success in the United States, it plunged the two countries' relationship to one of its lowest points, with Islamabad complaining that the action was a serious violation of its sovereignty.