Iraqi Army Rescues British Journalist
Richard Butler, who worked for CBS News, was found with a sack over his head and his hands tied inside a house in Basra, Lt. Gen. Mohan al-Fireji said. He said Butler was in good condition.
Butler was found during an Iraqi military sweep in the Jibiliya area, a Shiite militia stronghold in Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.
Defense ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said that an army patrol conducting a search came under fire from the house where Butler was being held. One of the gunmen was wounded in an exchange of fire and another captured while two men managed to escape, he said.
Butler was later shown on Iraqi state television laughing and greeting his rescuers.
"Thank you and I'm looking forward to seeing my family and my friends at CBS and thank you again," Butler told al-Askari.
He described the soldiers' performance as "brilliant."
"The Iraqi army stormed the house and overcame my guards and they burst through the door," Butler said. "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."
In London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband welcomed Butler's release and said he was "very grateful to (Iraqi) security forces for the professionalism of the task they have undertaken."
He said Butler was in the care of the British consulate in Basra.
Butler was kidnapped along with his Iraqi interpreter on Feb. 10 in Basra. The interpreter was later released. Iraqi police and witnesses said the two men were seized by about eight masked gunmen wielding machine guns who stormed a hotel in the city.
In recent days, Iraqi forces have started house-to-house sweeps for arms, weapons, drugs and criminal elements in several parts of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city. The military said it has uncovered an improvised explosive device factory, along with significant arms caches and numerous roadside bombs, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
What a GIANT feet this is for Iraq! This is wonderful, the Iraqi Army is starting to kick some major butt and will be able to stand on thier own soon. Rescuing this guy is awesome. Some people fixate on the 1000 Iraqi Troops that took off and didnt stay and fight, out of 14,000 Troops, I would like to pay attention to the 13,000 Iraqi Troops that stayed and fought in the battle for Basra :-)