BAGHDAD, Feb 26: An apparent deadline set by kidnappers holding US journalist Jill Carroll in Iraq passed today with no word but an Interior Ministry intelligence officer said he expected any deadline to be extended.
Citing sources close to her captors, Kuwait's Al Rai TV said on Feb. 10 that the kidnappers planned to carry out a threat to kill Carroll unless their demands were met by a Feb. 26 deadline.
Al Rai declined to specify the kidnappers' demands but in previous videos, Carroll has said her captors were demanding that all female prisoners in Iraq be freed.
Carroll was kidnapped on a Baghdad street on Jan. 7 and her translator was killed. Muslim leaders have joined her family, friends and colleagues in calling for her release.
An intelligence officer in Iraq's Interior Ministry said a special unit was still actively engaged in searching for the missing journalist and expected any deadline to be extended.
The unit's work had not been disrupted by the past week's sectarian violence, he said, and several raids had been conducted recently in western Baghdad and north of the capital.
''Unfortunately we came up empty-handed,'' the officer said.
''The Interior Ministry is paying special attention to this, as the international community expects,'' he added.
More than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Fifty-four foreign hostages are known to have been executed by their captors -- 41 in 2004 and 13 in 2005.