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U.S. officer details Kyrgyz kidnapping

Published September 10, 2006

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - A U.S. Air Force officer who disappeared for three days says someone stuffed an object in her jeans pocket with a note saying it was a bomb and telling her to go to a site in Bishkek, where kidnappers grabbed her, Kyrgyz authorities said Saturday.

They said Maj. Jill Metzger reported feeling as if she were in a trance as she followed the instructions.

U.S. officials said the 33-year-old officer was in "stable condition" after she turned up Friday night, and had been moved to another American base in the region.

Metzger disappeared Tuesday in Bishkek, capital of this former Soviet state in Central Asia, while shopping at a department store for souvenirs before a scheduled departure from the country on Friday.

Her disappearance touched off an extensive search by Kyrgyz police and by U.S. military personnel, including 22 special agents.

No trace was found until late Friday when Metzger knocked on the door of a house in Kant, a town about 22 miles from Bishkek, and told its residents she had been abducted, Kyrgyz Deputy Interior Minister Omurbek Suvanaliyev said.

Military officials said Metzger was a newlywed and had been scheduled to travel with her husband to Jamaica for a belated 10-day honeymoon.

Metzger told Kyrgyz police she had been abducted by three young men and a woman in a minibus and held in a rural area about 30 miles from the capital, Suvanaliyev said.

Kemilbek Kiyazov, chief of the Chuysk regional police department, said, "Her first testimony was that when she split up with her group in the department store, someone put a hard object and a note saying it was an explosive in a back pocket of her jeans.

"In the note there were also detailed instructions about where to go and what to do. Metzger says it was as if she were in a trance and fulfilling someone else's wishes."

Kiyazov said the major reported that she was met by three men and a woman who put her into a vehicle, took her to a house and placed her in a dark room. He quoted her as saying she managed to escape after an abductor brought her food and she struck him.

Kiyazov, who said he personally talked with Metzger, said her blondish hair had been dyed dark brown and her hands were stained with dye. He said it would be necessary to question her again to get more details, "but Metzger said she really wanted to get a good sleep."

Capt. Anna Carpenter, a spokeswoman at the U.S. air base at Bishkek's Manas airport, where Metzger had been temporarily stationed, said the major was in "stable condition."

Metzger was taken several hours later to another base in the region, Carpenter said, but declined to say where. Manas is the only U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan.

The U.S. Embassy said that "it now appears that Major Metzger had been abducted," but added she was safe and thanked Kyrgyz officials for their efforts.

[Last modified September 10, 2006, 00:38:03]

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