US hostage released in Iraq

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The Independent Online

The American freelance reporter Jill Carroll was released from nearly three months in captivity today and was believed to be with US officials inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, Iraq police and the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party reported.

Carroll, a freelance reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped on 7 January in Baghdad's western Adil neighbuorhood while going to interview Sunni Arab politician Adnan al-Dulaimi. Her translator was killed in the attack about 300 yards from al-Dulaimi's office.

"She was released this morning, she's talked to her father and she's fine," said David Cook, an editor for the Monitor in Washington. He said the paper had no further details.

Police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said she was released at the Iraqi Islamic Party office in Amiriya, western Baghdad, by an unknown group. She was later turned over to the Americans and is now believed to be in the Green Zone, he said.

Her captors, calling themselves the Revenge Brigades, had demanded the release of all women detainees in Iraq by 26 February and said Carroll would be killed if that didn't happen. The date came and went with no word about her welfare.

The United States Embassy in Baghdad said it could not confirm Carroll's release.

On 28 February, Iraq's Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said Jill Carroll was being held by the Islamic Army in Iraq, the insurgent group that freed two French journalists in 2004 after four months in captivity.

Jabr said then that he believed the 28-year-old freelance reporter for The Christian Science Monitor was still alive, although the deadline set by her captors for the US to meet their demands had expired.

She was last seen in a videotape broadcast on 9 February by the private Kuwaiti television station Al-Rai.

Carroll's twin, Katie, yesterday pleaded for her release on Arab television.

"I've been living a nightmare, worrying if she is hurt or ill," she in a statement read on the Al-Arabiya network.

Carroll is the fourth Western hostage to be freed in eight days. On 23 March, US and British soldiers, acting on intelligence gained from a detainee, freed Briton Norman Kember, 74, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, from a house west of Baghdad.

The three belonged to the Christian Peacemakers Teams group and had been kidnapped with an American colleague, Tom Fox, 54, on 26 November. Fox was killed and his body was dumped in western Baghdad on 9 March.