- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 9, 2006

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — A U.S. 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.

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, base spokeswoman Capt. Anna Carpenter said.

Kyrgyz Deputy Interior Minister Omurbek Suvanaliyev said Maj. Metzger 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.

Maj. 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, the interior minister said. 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 Maj. Metzger’s father-in-law, Kelly Mayo, who said in a telephone interview from Colorado Springs that the woman 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.”

The U.S. military has maintained an air base at Kyrgyzstan’s main civilian airport since 2001, backing operations in nearby Afghanistan.

Military officials said the newlywed major, 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. The so-called “cultural tours” are common for off-duty personnel.

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

Before her disappearance, Maj. Metzger had been scheduled to head to Dayton, Ohio, for the annual United States Air Force Marathon. She has twice won the women’s division of the event.

A week later, she was to travel with her husband to Jamaica for a belated 10-day honeymoon.

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