Abducted U.S. Major Moved To Germany

Major Jill Metzger, a personnel officer at the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, has been declared as missing following her visit to a Bishkek shopping center Sept. 5, 2006. AP

A U.S. Air Force major who went missing for three days arrived at a U.S. military hospital in Germany on Sunday, and a senior Kyrgyz police official said that her departure "strongly complicates" the probe into her disappearance.

Maj. Jill Metzger vanished Tuesday in Bishkek, the capital of this former Soviet republic, while shopping for souvenirs at a department store before a scheduled departure from the country on Friday.

A massive search involving Kyrgyz and U.S. investigators came up empty until late Friday, when police said Metzger knocked on the door of a house in Kant, about 22 miles from the capital, and said she had been abducted.

The 33-year-old officer was taken out of Kyrgyzstan on Saturday. She arrived Sunday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan for medical exams and debriefing, a statement from U.S. Air Forces Europe headquarters said.

The statement, which did not mention Metzger's condition, said it was unclear how long she would stay, but the debriefing process usually lasts three to six days.

Capt. Anna Carpenter, spokeswoman at the U.S. air base at Bishkek's civilian airport, said Saturday that Metzger was in "stable condition." Kyrgyz authorities have said only that she was exhausted.

Carpenter also dismissed concerns that Metzger's departure would hinder the investigation, saying some of the U.S. investigators were still working actively with Kyrgyz authorities.

"They're still out there banging on doors and looking at leads," Carpenter said. Now that Metzger is safe, she said, investigators "can focus on what happened to her and finding those responsible," as well eliminating a possible threat to others.

But Kemilbek Kiyazov, chief of the police department in the region surrounding Bishkek where Metzger was found, said the probe would go more smoothly if she were in Kyrgyzstan to provide more detailed evidence.

"Her absence strongly complicates the investigation," Kiyazov told The Associated Press.

"She should in detail describe the outward appearance of her abductors, draw a diagram of where they took her," said Kiyazov, who saw and talked to Metzger after she reappeared.

Carpenter said "taking care of Major Metzger was the first priority" in the decision to remove her from Kyrgyzstan and "she can tell her story from wherever she is."

Kiyazov said Metzger told police that after she split from others at the department store, someone put a hard object in a back pocket of her jeans along with a note saying it was an explosive. The note also included detailed instructions about where to go and what to do.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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