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Kidnapped CBS Photographer Freed in Iraq

April 14, 2008 03:23 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
After two months in captivity, Richard Butler, a British photographer for the American CBS network, was freed on Monday in the southern city of Basra.

30-Second Summary

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Iraqi forces rescued Butler today as they scoured the area for militants. He “appeared in good health and high spirits,” reports Reuters.

Butler and his interpreter were kidnapped two months ago from their Basra hotel; unlike most Westerners, Butler had traveled into Basra without a military convoy. Militants released the interpreter soon after Butler was seized.

According to Reuters, “The Committee to Protect Journalists says 51 journalists have been kidnapped in Iraq since 2004, with 12 of those killed,” and 127 journalists and 50 media support workers have been killed since 2003.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been criticized for his March offensive against militant gangs in Basra and Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, though the freeing of Butler could be used to show the campaign was not a “failure,” according to Reuters.

The difficulties of the government’s fight against militants became apparent yesterday, when it fired more than 1,300 Iraqi soldiers and policemen for abandoning the fight. Many Shia are averse to engaging in combat against fellow Shia. 

The Iraqi government has struggled for power against the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who wields influence among the large, poor Shia population. The U.S. has criticized al-Maliki for his handling of the Basra military push, as it has plunged Iraq into even greater upheaval.

In another recent development, Muqtada al-Sadr’s relative and top aid, Riyad al-Nuri, was assassinated last week in the city of Kufa.

Watch AP coverage

Headline Links: Journalist Rescued

Background: The battle between al-Maliki and al-Sadr

Opinion & Analysis: Dealing with the militants

Reference: ‘What is the Mehdi Army?’

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