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US major reports she was kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan

Appears at a house outside the capital

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- A US Air Force officer who disappeared earlier this week in Kyrgyzstan was found alive late yesterday, reportedly telling people who helped her that she had been kidnapped, officials said.

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

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 that she had been kidnapped.

Metzger said she had been abducted by three young men and a woman in a minibus and held in a rural area 30 miles from Bishkek, Suvanaliyev said today. He cited local police in Kant, where he said she approached the first house she came to. He said she looked exhausted and her hair was 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 that Metzger was found on the side of the road with her head shaved.

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

Suvanaliyev said the people who took Metzger in when she knocked on their door called the police. There was no immediate information on who the reported abductors were or what their motive was.

US military officials had no comment on the kidnapping report. Carpenter declined to discuss Metzger's condition, which a military statement said will be determined by a medical team.

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

``I can't even describe it. He's just beside himself," Mayo said, adding the family was waiting for her to call.

Kyrgyz authorities notified base officials at 1:15 a.m. local time today of the news, the statement said.

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. She had been scheduled to land back at her US base yesterday.

The United States has maintained an air base at Kyrgyzstan's civilian airport since 2001, backing operations in Afghanistan.

Military officials said the newlywed Metzger, dressed in blue jeans and a sweater, vanished during a shopping trip to a tourist hotspot in Bishkek, where she was searching for souvenirs to bring home to her family. The so-called cultural tours are common for off-duty personnel.

Her disappearance had baffled investigators. The military had 22 special agents looking for Metzger.

The shopping center where Metzger disappeared, about 35 miles from the base, is not particularly dangerous , said Colonel Kevin Jacobson of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

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