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British hostage released in Iraq

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - British contractor Gary Teeley, seized by suspected militants in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya last week, has been handed over to U.S.-led forces, officials say.

"He is in the hands of American and Italian forces in Nassiriya as we speak. We'll be making sure that he is flown out of the country and back to Britain as soon as possible," said a senior source in the coalition forces on Sunday.

In London, a Foreign Office spokesman said Teeley, 37 and a father of five who had been missing since last Monday, was "safe and well".

No details were immediately available on how Teeley -- one of a number of foreigners who have been kidnapped or gone missing in Iraq in the past week -- had been freed or who had handed him over.

"(The news has) still not sunk in at the moment. I am just grinning from ear to ear. I am so happy," Terry Teeley, a cousin of the contractor, told Sky News television.

Teeley, 37, is a consultant for a laundry firm and has worked extensively in the Middle East. It was not clear exactly what work Teeley had been doing in Iraq.

Three Japanese are still being held hostage by guerrillas who have threatened to kill them if Japanese forces are not withdrawn from Iraq.

An American security contractor and several other contractors whose nationalities are not known are also either in the hands of guerrillas or missing.

Seven South Korean missionaries were seized last week but released shortly afterwards by their abductors.

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