Gunmen kidnap 26 Qatari hunters in Southern Iraq

Unidentified group of 100 gunmen kidnap around 26 Qatari hunters including members of royal family in southern deserts of Iraq close to Saudi border

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

An unidentified group of 100 gunmen have kidnapped around 26 Qatari hunters, including members of the royal family in the southern deserts of Iraq close to the Saudi border.

The hunters were kidnapped on Wednesday by a group of 100 gunmen from a hunting camp in the southern deserts of Iraq close to the Saudi border, regional governor and police officials said.

A wide scale search of the Samawa area in order to find the Qataris has been made by the Iraqi police.

"An armed group driving dozens of pickup trucks kidnapped at least 26 Qatari hunters from their camp in the area of Busaya in the Samawa desert near the Saudi border," Samawa governor Falih al-Zayady told Reuters.

"All of those kidnapped are Qatari and a number of members of the ruling family in Qatar are among them," he said.

However, no group have claimed responsibility for the abduction.

At this time of the year, it is common that Hunters from Gulf states come to the south of Iraq for trips.

Qatari Foreign Ministry confirmed the attack stating that it is working with the Iraqi government to find and release them “as soon as possible.”

"We are talking about at least 100 gunmen armed with light and medium weapons who broke into the Qatari camp and abducted the hunters at around 3 am local time on Wednesday," said the police colonel, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Iraq's Interior Ministry said the Qatari men had entered Iraq with an official permit.

"The hunters were moving in a sprawling desert area and did not abide by Interior Ministry instructions of not leaving the secured areas towards unsecured ones,"Interior Ministry said in a statement.

This is the second case of kidnapping that took place in Iraq within the last three months. On September, 18 Turks citizens were kidnapped in Baghdad, but released later unharmed.

TRTWorld and agencies