Baghdad Kidnappers Free Reporter for British Paper

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By John Ward Anderson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, October 21, 2005

BAGHDAD, Oct. 20 -- The Baghdad bureau chief of the British newspaper the Guardian was released unharmed late Thursday after being held by kidnappers for more than a day in a cramped basement in the capital, the newspaper reported on its Web site.

Rory Carroll, 33, who has covered Iraq for the paper for nine months, was dropped off in central Baghdad after unidentified intermediaries won his release, the Web report said.

"I'm absolutely fine, both physically and psychologically," the newspaper quoted Carroll as saying. "I've been well treated, apart from a bit of initial roughness when they first took me."

Carroll, an Irish citizen, was abducted on Wednesday by armed gunmen in Sadr City, a Shiite slum in northeastern Baghdad. He had gone there to interview a family about the opening of the trial of deposed president Saddam Hussein.

"They took me in a car and after 20 minutes switched me to the boot of another one," he said, using the British expression for the trunk. "They stripped me of all my own clothes and dressed me in old clothes."

According to the newspaper, Carroll was handcuffed and held in a dark basement for 36 hours. "I had only had a rug and pillow," he said. "They allowed me out twice for food."

On Thursday night, he said, "I heard a captor in the corridor answer his mobile. He laughed and sounded relieved, and opened the bolted door and said, 'I am going to let you go.' . . . He put me in the boot of his car and drove me alone and dropped me in the middle of Baghdad."

Carroll said he did not know his abductors, but he suspected they were opportunistic criminals, the newspaper said. It did not say whether a ransom had been demanded or paid for his release.

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