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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 15:08 GMT
US releases Iraqi women prisoners
An Iraqi woman prisoner at Abu Ghraib in 2004
Insurgents have often called for all Iraqi female prisoners to be freed
The United States military in Iraq has released five Iraqi women detainees, after concluding there was insufficient evidence to charge them.

The women were freed as part of a release of 419 Iraqi prisoners, a US spokesman said.

US officials denied the release was connected to a demand by the kidnappers of a US journalist that she would die unless all women prisoners were freed.

Gunmen abducted Jill Carroll in Baghdad's Adel district on 7 January.

Ms Carroll, who was reporting for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, was going to meet Sunni leader Adnan al-Dulaimi when she was seized and her translator fatally wounded.

Release

"Let me assert that there is no connection between the release and kidnapping of the US reporter. The release was finalised after a review by the Iraqi-US board," a US spokesman said.

"When they were detained we had enough evidence to indicate that they were an imminent threat to the security of Iraq and were detained as per the UN Security Council regulations. But there was no trial for a specific crime," he added.

Video grab of Jill Carroll's appeal on al-Jazeera
Jill Carroll has been reporting in the Middle East for the past three years

The demand that all Iraqi female prisoners held by coalition forces should be released was made in a video of Ms Carroll which aired on Arab TV channel al-Jazeera on last week.

It is not the first time that the abductors of Western hostages in Iraq have called for the release of women prisoners.

In October 2004, Briton Ken Bigley and two American hostages were beheaded by members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, who had demanded female prisoners be freed.

The British aid worker Margaret Hassan, abducted in November 2004 and later murdered, appeared in a similar video calling for foreign troop withdrawals and the release of women prisoners.

Roadside bombings

In other news, the US military said one of their soldiers was killed and another wounded in a roadside bomb attack south of Baghdad on Wednesday.

The soldiers were part of Multi-National Division-Baghdad, the US statement said.

Three Iraqi soldiers were also killed and four wounded on Wednesday in a similar incident north of the capital, Iraqi police said.

Lt Amir al-Ahbabi said the bomb exploded on the Baghdad-Mosul highway in the al-Ishaqi area, some 90km (55 miles) north of Baghdad.



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