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Pakistan brands international news coverage "illegal"

Osama bin Laden reporters told they need licence and made to leave Abbottabad.

The BBC, CNN and Fox are among nine international news channels the Pakistani government has ordered to leave Abbottabad, the town where Osama bin Laden was recently killed. The Pakistani television regular Pemra called the last week's television broadcasting from the garrison town "illegal".

Media networks have been further barred from reporting anywhere in Pakistan without a licence, it is suggested. Such a licence is previously unknown and journalists attempting to enter the country since Saturday night have been turned away.

British, Australian and American journalists already reporting from Pakistan are among those instructed to leave by government officials, on the grounds of their visas status.

Ceaseless coverage from Abbottabad coupled with rising critical questions asked of the Pakistan government seem to have prompted the measures. In recent days, US official have suggested that Pakistan's secret intelligence agency (the ISI) may have played a role in Osama bin Laden's six year unreported hiding in a busy garrison town.

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.