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Iraq: U.S. Journalist Freed After Almost Three Months

Jill Carroll after her release on March 30 (AFP) PRAGUE, March 30, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- After nearly three months of captivity in Iraq, U.S. journalist Jill Carroll has been freed.

"I'm just happy to be free. I just want to be with my family," Carroll told Baghdad television. She said her kidnappers "treated me well. They didn't hit me or threaten me."

But the 28-year-old reporter for the U.S. daily "The Christian Science Monitor" said she did not know who her captors were. Her reply to that question was simply, "You should ask the mujahedin," a term used by Iraqi insurgents to describe themselves.

Details Of Release Unclear

Few details are known yet about how Carroll was freed today. News reports say she was dropped off at the headquarters of the Sunni Arab Iraqi Islamic Party in a Sunni neighborhood of Baghdad.

Carroll is reported to now be safe within Baghdad's Green Zone, the secure compound housing the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices.

Captors Demanded Release Of All Women Prisoners

The journalist was kidnapped at gunpoint on January 7 on a Baghdad street while on her way from the office of Sunni politician Adnan al-Dulaymi. Her interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, was shot dead during the abduction. Her driver escaped.

Carroll's kidnappers, a group calling itself the Vengeance Brigades, demanded the release of all Iraqi women held in U.S. military and Iraqi jails.

Since the kidnapping, Carroll appeared in three videotapes delivered to the offices of Arabic-language television stations in Baghdad.

In the last to be aired, on February 9, she pleaded for her captors' demands to be urgently met: "Please just do whatever they want, give them whatever they want as quickly as possible, there is a very short time, please do it fast. That's all."

During the ordeal, the hostage takers set two deadlines for meeting their demands. One was January 20, the other February 26. The last passed without news of her fate, raising worries for her safety. On February 28, Iraqi forces said they raided homes looking for Carroll but without result.

Pleas For Carroll's Release

Jill Carroll's twin sister, Katie Carroll, called on the kidnappers to release their hostage in an appeal broadcast on the Arabic television network Al-Arabiyah on March 29.

"My name is Katie Carroll. My twin sister is Jill Carroll, the innocent journalist kidnapped in Baghdad 82 days ago. I am speaking to you today because it has been nearly two months since the last videotape of Jill was broadcast," she said. "We have had no contact with her, nor received any information about her condition."

During Jill Carroll's captivity, many Iraqi groups pleaded for her release, including Muthana Harith al-Dari, a leader of Iraq's Muslim Scholars Association, an umbrella group of Sunni clerics.

At the same time, Iraqi state television broadcast appeals describing her as a friend of Iraq.

More than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been abducted by militant and criminal groups over the past three years since the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The hostage takers make political demands or seek to extort ransom.

Many of those kidnapped have been freed but scores have been killed.

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