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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 March 2006, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
US journalist is set free in Iraq
Jill Carroll speaks on Baghdad Television

A US reporter held hostage in Iraq for more than two months has been freed.

Jill Carroll, who works for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, was abducted by unknown gunmen in west Baghdad on 7 January.

She told Iraqi television she had been treated well and was looking forward to being reunited with her family.

The US ambassador to Iraq said no ransom was paid by the US embassy. Ms Carroll's release came a week after three other Westerners were freed.

[The kidnappers] just came to me and said: 'We're letting you go'
Jill Carroll

"I'm just happy to be free. I just want to be with my family," Ms Carroll said in a brief interview in English shown on Baghdad television.

"I don't know why I was kidnapped," said the 28-year-old journalist, who was wearing a headscarf.

Ms Carroll said she had been only allowed to move between her room and the bathroom.

'Safe place'

However, she stressed that her captors treated her "very well".

"They never hit me. I was kept in a safe place with nice furniture, plenty of food. I was allowed to take showers," she said.

She appears in good health and great spirits
Zalmay Khalilzad
US ambassador to Iraq

Ms Carroll's family said in a statement that they were elated.

The editor of the Christian Science Monitor, Richard Bergenheim, said all the newspaper's staff were "thrilled" at the news.

US President George Bush responded to the news of Ms Carroll's release with the words: "Thank God."

He added: "I'm really grateful she was released and thank those who worked hard for her release."

Embassy informed

Recalling the circumstances of her release, Ms Carroll said her captors "just came to me and said: 'We're letting you go'".

Iraqi police said Ms Carroll had been dropped off at the offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party in western Baghdad and was in good health.

German engineers Rene Braeunlich and Thomas Nitzschke who were taken hostage in Iraq on 24 January 2006
The fate of about 90 foreign hostages remains unknown

US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters he was informed about the release at about 1300 local time and went to meet her.

"She is safe, she is free and she appears in good health and great spirits," Mr Khalilzad said after the meeting.

He added that none of the hostage takers had been captured and that no ransom was paid by the US embassy.

Mr Bergenheim said it appeared that US troops played no part in Ms Carroll's release.

An Iraqi government source quoted by Reuters news agency said that Ms Carroll was being cared for in Baghdad's heavily guarded government compound, the Green Zone.

Demands

Ms Carroll was kidnapped in Baghdad's western Adil district while going to interview the senior Sunni Arab politician Adnan al-Dulaimi. Her interpreter was killed.

Her captors, who called themselves the Revenge Brigades, had demanded the release of all women detainees in Iraq.

They had threatened to execute her if their demands were not met by a 26 February deadline.

At least 230 foreigners, and thousands of Iraqis, have been taken hostage in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003.

About 50 of the foreigners have been killed by their captors and the whereabouts of another 90, including six Americans, remain unknown.


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