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Iraqi troops free British journalist

Kim Sengupta
Tuesday 15 April 2008 00:00 BST

A British journalist kidnapped in Basra was freed after two months in captivity when Iraqi security forces raided the building where he was being held.

Richard Butler, a photojournalist with CBS, was found hooded and with his hands tied behind his back by soldiers searching an area which previously had a heavy militia presence.

The soldiers came under fire, according to Iraqi officials, from four gunmen, one of whom they captured.

Mr Butler told Iraqi television: "The Iraqi army stormed the house and overcame my guards and then burst through the door. I had my hood on, which I had to have on all the time, and they shouted something at me and I pulled my hood off." He described the soldiers as "brilliant".

Mr Butler was abducted from the Qasr-al Sultan Hotel in Basra by armed men in February. It is believed he had booked in after being promised an interview with the radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. A different faction of the cleric's militia, say Iraqi officials, abducted him.

A spokeswoman for CBS said: "We are incredibly grateful that our colleague, Richard Butler, has been released and is safe."

Local news reports in Basra said in February that the militia members holding Mr Butler wanted to release him but were apprehensive that they had been identified.

According to Mr Butler's website, he was one of the few freelance photographers inside Baghdad to cover the city's fall in 2003.

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