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U.S. officer found safe in Kyrgyzstan

Published September 9, 2006

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - A U.S. Air Force officer who disappeared this week in Kyrgyzstan was found alive late Friday, reportedly telling people who helped her that she had been kidnapped, Kyrgyz and U.S. officials said.

Maj. Jill Metzger, 33, was located by Kyrgyz law enforcement agents, who informed authorities at the U.S. air base at the airport in Bishkek, the Central Asian nation's capital, the base spokeswoman, Capt. Anna Carpenter, said.

Kyrgyz Deputy Interior Minister Omurbek Suvanaliyev said Metzger, 33, knocked on the door of a house on the outskirts of the capital shortly before midnight and told its residents she had been kidnapped.

Metzger said she had been abducted by three men and a woman in a minibus, and held in a rural area 30 miles from Bishkek, Suvanaliyev told the Associated Press, citing local police in Kant, where he said she approached the first house she came to. He said she looked exhausted and that her hair had been dyed.

That account differed somewhat from one given by Metzger's father-in-law, Kelly Mayo, who said in a telephone interview from Colorado Springs, Colo., that Metzger was found on the side of the road with her head shaved.

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

Suvanaliyev said the people who took Metzger in when she knocked called the police.

Mayo said the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations notified the family Friday afternoon but were given few details. He said his son, Air Force Capt. Joshua Mayo, was elated after being told about his wife.

There was no immediate U.S. comment on the kidnapping report. Carpenter declined to discuss Metzger's condition.

Metzger, a former resident of Henderson, N.C., was serving a four-month stint at the base with the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing. Her normal duty station is Moody Air Force Base in Georgia as a member of the 347th Mission Support Squadron.

Military officials said the newlywed Metzger, dressed in blue jeans and a sweater, vanished during a shopping trip to a tourist hot spot in Bishkek, where she was searching for souvenirs to bring home to her family.

[Last modified September 9, 2006, 01:29:19]

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