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Five Iraqi women are released from US custody

The Iraqi mother of a detainee offered her prayers and hope Thursday to Jill Carroll's mother.

The mother of one of five Iraqi female detainees released Thursday expressed confidence that American journalist Jill Carroll will be released soon.

"She'll be fine and she will come out very soon because she loves Iraq and she loves Iraqis, so God will never forget her," says Siham Faraj, the mother of Hala Khalid Wahid who was detained by US forces in Iraq four months ago.

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But she added, "I don't think Jill Carroll's situation has anything to do with the release of my daughter, but we definitely feel her pain....

"And to her mother, I say: I know how painful it is when a daughter is detained. But don't worry, madam. Your daughter is a great woman and she will be fine."

Mrs. Faraj's 28-year-old daughter was arrested along with her son on Sept. 24 during a dawn raid by US forces on their Baghdad home.

In a video message aired on Arabic satellite channel Al Jazeera last week, Ms. Carroll's captors threatened to kill her within 72 hours unless all female detainees in Iraqi prisons were released.

The US military confirmed last week it was holding nine Iraqi women. On Thursday, however, the military said it had detained two more women and three men for alleged insurgent activities in the northern city of Mosul. Detainees are regularly freed in Iraq following reviews of their cases, a process that can take months. US officials say that Thursday's release of five women and 414 men was part of the routine procedure and not linked to Carroll's case.

Separately, the widow of an Al Jazeera staff correspondent killed in Iraq also called for Carroll's release. "Kidnapping journalists or civilians harms the good image of the [Iraqi] resistance," Dima Tahboub told Al Ghad, a Arab-language newspaper in Amman, Jordan.

Her Jordanian husband, Tareq Ayoub, was killed in April 2003 during a US air raid that struck the generator outside Al Jazeera's Baghdad bureau. She added, "The resistance has to adopt legal methods that spare civilians.... Journalists who play an objective professional role and serve their societies should be spared also."

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A group of 37 Jordanian politicians, academics, and journalists also released a statement Thursday calling "the kidnapping of Carroll ... a kidnapping of one of the witnesses of the suffering of the Iraqi people."

In Iraq, two German engineers were kidnapped Tuesday, just two days after arriving in the country. Iraqi police say they were seized by men wearing Iraqi Army uniforms who slipped into the German company's complex.

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said there had been no contact with the kidnappers.

Staff writer Dan Murphy in Baghdad and The Associated Press contributed to this report.