Kidnappers free Jill Carroll on a west Baghdad street after three months

American reporter Jill Carroll was set free on a west Baghdad street Thursday nearly three months after she was taken captive and her translator was killed in a bloody ambush. The Christian Science Monitor freelancer was carrying a letter in Arabic from her kidnappers instructing a Sunni Muslim political party to help her.

Carroll, wearing a light green Islamic headscarf and a gray Arabic robe, was dropped near a branch office of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni Muslim political organization, about 12:15 p.m. and walked into its branch office in the Amariyah neighborhood.

The 28-year-old reporter "introduced herself as Jill Carroll...and gave us a written letter in Arabic that asked the Islamic Party help her," Alaa Maki, a party member, told a news conference.

Carroll was transferred to the party's nearby headquarters, where she was interviewed by the party-owned Baghdad Television and later given a copy of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, that appeared to be covered in gold leaf.

"I was treated well, but I don't know why I was kidnapped," Carroll said.

"I was kept in a very good, small safe place, a safe room, nice furniture," she said, adding that she was given clothing, "plenty of food. I was allowed to take showers, go to the bathroom when I wanted. Very good. (They) never hit me, never even threatened to hit me.

"I thought I was not very free. It was difficult because I didn't know what would happen to me," she told the interviewer.

Her comments Thursday contrasted to video tapes of her released by the kidnappers to Arab television stations, reports AP.

According to Reuters, the family of kidnapped American reporter Jill Carroll was elated by her release on Thursday after nearly three months of captivity in Iraq and voiced hopes that other hostages would be freed soon.

"It was quite a wake-up call," Carroll's father, Jim, told CNN in recounting a 6 a.m. phone call from his freed daughter to his North Carolina home.

"She's in good health and mentally strong. We had a fantastic conversation," her father said.

Carroll's mother, Mary, called her daughter's release "a joyous occasion" that should give hope to kidnapped Iraqis.

"My wish is that this joyous occasion will offer hope to all the mothers of Iraq whose children have been kidnapped. May they all be returned safely and swiftly to their mothers' arms," she said in a statement from her Illinois home.

Thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped in the past three years, many for ransom. More than 200 foreigners have also been taken prisoner. Many have been freed but others have been killed by militant groups making political demands.


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