Iraqis free kidnapped British journalist

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A British journalist held for two months by kidnappers in the southern Iraqi city of Basra was rescued today by Iraqi forces sweeping through the city in a crackdown on militants, the Iraqi military said.

Richard Butler, a photographer on assignment for the US network CBS, had been kidnapped from a hotel in the centre of the southern city in February.

"He is in good health. He is fine. He's here with me," Iraqi Defence Ministry spokesman Major-General Mohammed al-Askari told Reuters by telephone from Basra.

Butler's rescue was an apparent victory for Iraqi forces, embarrassed last month by a hasty crackdown against militants in Basra that triggered fighting across the south and Baghdad while failing to dislodge masked militiamen from the streets.