A U.S. official says Pakistan soon will allow American investigators to question the three wives of Osama bin Laden who were with the al-Qaida leader when he was killed in his compound in the northern city of Abbottabad last week.
The women - two Saudis and a Yemeni - and their children have been in Pakistani custody since the May 2 raid. U.S. officials say the interviews, as well as evidence taken from the hideout, could provide important details about the al-Qaida network.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it has yet to receive a formal request from the United States for access to bin Laden's relatives. Other officials said no decision has been taken on the issue.
Unnamed Pakistani security officials said Tuesday that one of bin Laden's sons may have gone missing since the U.S. raid. Bin Laden's wives are said to have told interrogators that one son has not been seen since the raid. Another of bin Laden's sons, Khalid, was killed in the raid.
Bin Laden was married five times and had at least 18 children.
In other developments, a message attributed to Omar bin Laden, yet another son of the late al-Qaida leader, was posted on a militant website late Monday. In it, he purportedly criticized the U.S. for killing his father and burying his body at sea. Omar bin Laden said disposing the body in such a way "demeans and humiliates" the family and supporters, and "challenges religious provisions and the feelings of hundreds of millions of Muslims."
Also Tuesday, al-Qaida issued a statement again calling on Muslims to avenge bin Laden's death. The statement, made available by the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence monitoring service, said the assassination was a "big mistake" and a "serious sin." It warned that Americans "will pay the price" for the deadly raid.
A spokesman for former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf denied media reports that Mr. Musharraf years ago struck a deal with the United States allowing U.S. forces to conduct operations on Pakistani soil if bin Laden was found to be hiding out there.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.