Sun, Sep 10, 2006 - Page 7 News List

US major claims to have been kidnapping victim


A US Air Force officer who went missing earlier this week in Kyrgyzstan was found alive and told local police she had been kidnapped, officials said yesterday.

Major Jill Metzger, 33, knocked on the door of a house in Kant -- a town about 35km from Bishkek -- shortly before midnight on Friday and told its residents she had been kidnapped, Kyrgyz Deputy Interior Minister Omurbek Suvanaliyev said.

Metzger, who disappeared while shopping for souvenirs in Bishkek on Tuesday, told Kyrgyz law enforcement agents she had been abducted by three young men and a woman in a minibus and held in a rural area about 50km from Bishkek, Suvanaliyev said, citing local police in Kant.

She was exhausted and her hair had been dyed, he said.

Earlier, Metzger's father-in-law, Kelly Mayo, said in Colorado Springs that the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations said she had been found on the side of the road with her head shaven. He also indicated she had been kidnapped.

"I know she's coherent, and whoever had her let her go," Mayo said. "We've got her back. Praise the Lord."

It wasn't immediately clear why the two accounts differed.

Captain Anna Carpenter, a spokeswoman at the US air base at Bishkek's Manas airport,where Metzger had been temporarily stationed, declined to comment on her condition.

Airport base commander Colonel Scott Reese praised the Kyrgyz government, Bishkek law enforcement officials and the US embassy "for the rapid and thorough investigation resulting in the successful recovery of Major Metzger," a military statement said.

"Her recovery is fantastic news for her family and our military community," said Lieutenant General Gary North, the commander of US Central Command Air Forces, who was visiting the base at the time.

After Metzger's disappearance, the military had barred all off-duty personnel from leaving the Bishkek base. It wasn't clear if that policy had changed late on Friday.

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