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August 18, 2017

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Kidnapped U.S. journalist Jill Carroll freed in Iraq

American journalist Jill Carroll was freed in Baghdad on Thursday, nearly three months after being kidnapped in the city.

"I'm just happy to be free. I just want to be with my family," Carroll, wearing a headscarf, told Baghdad Television, adding she had had no warning she was being freed.

"Never hit me. Never even threatened to hit me," she told the channel, which run by the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Sunni Arab organization to whose officials she was released.

Party leader Tareq al-Hashemi said Carroll had walked into an office of his party in the Sunni insurgent stronghold Amriya.

She said she had a comfortable room and could wash but could not move beyond the immediate confines of her accommodation.

Asked who her captors were and why they seized her off a Baghdad street on Jan. 7, killing her interpreter, she said: "I don't know why. That's a question for the mujahideen."

The 28-year-old Christian Science Monitor reporter did not know if she was held in Baghdad: "I felt I was not free. It was difficult because I didn't know what would happen to me."

She was in "great spirits", said U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who thanked Iraqi leaders for their work to free her.

He declined to say exactly where she was but Iraqi officials said she was in the Green Zone government and diplomatic compound. He said Hashemi had informed the embassy of Carroll's release shortly after midday (0900 GMT). Khalilzad said U.S. officials were not involved in negotiating her release.

Carroll's release came a week after three Christian peace activists were rescued by special forces after four months in captivity.

At that time, military officials in Baghdad said the hunt for Carroll and other foreign hostages was continuing.

The Islamic Party is one of the main Sunni Arab political groups in Iraq. Its leaders, in common with others, made strong appeals for Carroll's release.

Party leader Hashemi offered her a Koran at the end of her brief television interview and, speaking in English, said: "Don't forget the Iraqi people."

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