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American journalist abducted in Iraq

Suicide bombers kill at least 23 Iraqi police

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A freelance writer on assignment for The Christian Science Monitor was kidnapped Saturday in western Baghdad, and her Iraqi interpreter was killed, the newspaper said Monday.

Jill Carroll, 28, has been reporting from the Middle East for American, Jordanian, Italian and other news organizations for three years.

"Jill's ability to help others understand the issues facing all groups in Iraq has been invaluable," said Richard Bergenheim, editor of The Monitor, which is a non-religious newspaper published in Boston. (Watch how Carroll was kidnapped -- 1:48)

"We are urgently seeking information about Miss Carroll and are pursuing every avenue to secure her release," Bergenheim said.

Driver details abduction

Carroll's Iraqi driver escaped the abduction unharmed. He described the kidnapping in an article the newspaper sent to CNN and said it would publish Tuesday.

"I saw a group of people coming as if they had come from the sky," Carroll's driver said.

"One guy attracted my attention. He jumped in front of me screaming, 'Stop! Stop! Stop!' with his left hand up and a pistol in his right hand."

The article said one of the kidnappers pulled the driver from the car, then drove off with it, said the driver, who asked not to be identified. "They didn't give me any time to even put the car in neutral," he said.

The interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, 32, was found dead nearby, shot twice in the head, the newspaper said, citing law enforcement officials.

The incident took place within 300 yards of the office of Adnan al-Dulaimi, a Sunni politician whom Carroll had planned to interview, the article said.

But al-Dulaimi was not there and, after 25 minutes, Carroll and her interpreter attempted to drive off, but their red Toyota Cressida was halted, the article said.

"It was very obvious this was by design," the driver said. "The whole operation took no more than a quarter of a minute. It was very highly organized. It was a setup, a perfect ambush."

No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction.

Carroll has been working in Iraq since October 2003. (Read how journalist was realizing a dream)

"She has proved an insightful, resourceful, and courageous reporter," World News Editor David Clark Scott said. "But Jill is not the kind of person to take undue risks."

Carroll is one of 31 journalists kidnapped in Iraq since the beginning of the war, according to Reporters Sans Frontieres, an advocacy group based in Paris, France.

The Committee to Protect Journalists put the number of journalists kidnapped in Iraq since April 2004 at 36. Six have been killed, it said.

"We are deeply concerned for the safety of our colleague Jill Carroll, a noted professional journalist who has covered all sides of the conflict in Iraq," said Ann Cooper, executive director of the New York-based advocacy group. "We call on whoever is holding Carroll to release her at once."

At the request of the newspaper, CNN and other news organizations withheld details about the kidnapping until now.

Editors at the newspaper said they felt that holding back the information might improve Carroll's chances of being released safely and quickly.

Suicide attack

As the abduction was made public Monday, a new attack claimed the lives of almost two dozen Iraqi police.

Two suicide bombers targeted the Iraqi police academy compound in Baghdad, killing 23 police and wounding 21 others.

The blasts ignited just 547 yards (500 meters) from Iraq's ministers of interior and defense, and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who were attending Iraqi Police Day celebrations at the compound.

The bombers -- wearing uniforms of an Iraqi police major and a lieutenant colonel -- passed through three checkpoints before detonating their explosives, police said.

A colonel and two majors were among the dead, and a captain and a lieutenant were wounded in the midday attack, a police official said.

Kidnapping tip leads to mosque raid

A Muslim group accused the U.S. military of "storming" a mosque and causing "a lot of damage" to its interior during a raid Sunday.

The Association of Muslim Scholars has its offices in the compound of the Umm al-Qora mosque and opposes the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

A U.S. military official said the raid "was a necessary, immediate response" to the kidnapping of Carroll. The raid was based on a tip provided by an Iraqi, the official said.

The association said the raid was conducted "because of our position rejecting the occupation."

The Iraqi Islamic Party also denounced the raid, and accused U.S. forces of "breaking the doors and furniture" and painting a cross on a wall of the mosque.

A military spokesman did not respond to the first accusation, but rejected the latter as "completely unbelievable."

He said U.S. troops routinely place an "X" on walls of rooms to indicate the rooms have been searched and suggested that perhaps one such "X" was misinterpreted.

Other developments:

  • A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed Saturday a few miles east of Tal Afar, killing eight American soldiers and four U.S. civilians, the military said. The area near the Syrian border has been an area of insurgent activity and raids by Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces. The crash brings the number of troop deaths in the Iraq war to 2,206, according to U.S. military reports.
  • The Pentagon confirms that in May 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld received a recommendation from Ambassador Paul Bremer that more troops were needed in Iraq, but after consulting with his military commanders, Rumsfeld left the levels unchanged, at around 145,000. Bremer revealed the recommendation in a newly published book. A senior Pentagon official, confirming the account Monday, said Rumsfeld viewed the memo, which included the recommendation, as "end-of-tour wrap-up."
  • CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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