Looking pale and tired, a kidnapped US reporter, Jill Carroll, appeared in a silent videotape broadcast on Tuesday by al-Jazeera television. The network said her captors had threatened to kill her if the US does not release all women held prisoner in Iraq within 72 hours.
The tape showed Carroll, 28, speaking against a white background, her long dark hair parted in the center, but there was no sound. Al-Jazeera said she had asked the kidnappers to have pity and release her.
No insurgent group has taken responsibility for kidnapping her on Jan. 7, but a still photograph from the videotape on the network's Web site showed the words "The Revenge Brigade." The group is not known to have taken hostages in the past.
Carroll, a freelance reporter who was working primarily for The Christian Science Monitor, was abducted in a dangerous part of western Baghdad. She had just left the office of Adnan Dulaimi, a Sunni Arab political leader, when gunmen intercepted her car, aiming pistols at the driver and pulling him out.
In a statement on the Monitor's Web site, her family wrote: "Jill is an innocent journalist, and we respectfully ask that you please show her mercy and allow her to return home to her mother, sister and family. Jill is a kind person whose love for Iraq and the Iraqi people are evident in her articles."
The editor of the Monitor, Richard Bergenheim, also posted an appeal for her release.
Carroll, who grew up in Michigan and speaks some Arabic, had been reporting in the Middle East since late 2002, mostly in Iraq.
More than 400 foreigners and at least 36 journalists have been kidnapped in Iraq since 2003, along with thousands of Iraqis. Most foreigners have been released, but dozens have been killed. A number of Westerners remain captive, including four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams who were kidnapped in December. Only one Western woman is believed to have been killed by her captors: Margaret Hassan, an Irish-born aid worker who had lived in Iraq for years and was kidnapped in late 2004 in the same neighborhood as Carroll.
The US military raided a hard-line Sunni mosque in Baghdad a day after Carroll was kidnapped, setting off angry demonstrations by hundreds of Iraqis. Military officials later said the raid was based on a tip from an Iraqi and was a necessary response to the kidnapping.
Insurgent attacks across Iraq on Tuesday killed at least nine people.
In Baghdad, gunmen disguised as police burst into the offices of a contractor that supplies the Iraqi army with food and shot seven workers to death, Iraqi officials said. The gunmen arrived in two sedans at Nawrooz, a Kurdish-owned caterer, at 9pm in the bustling Karrada neighborhood, Interior Ministry officials said. Using pistols with silencers, they opened fire on 11 workers still in the building, killing seven.