Qatari Royal Family Members Kidnapped While Hunting in Iraq
Gunmen have kidnapped 27 Qatari hunters, including members of the royal family, in the Iraqi desert near Saudi Arabia.
Camels are among the animals which inhabit the Samawa desert. BBC
Sky News reported:
Dozens of Qatari hunters – including members of the royal family – have been kidnapped by armed men in Iraq.
About 100 men in more than 50 trucks, mounted with machine guns, took at least 26 people from a camp near the Bassiyah area, close to the Saudi border, according to officials.
“All of those kidnapped are Qatari and a number of members of the ruling family in Qatar are among them,” said Faleh al Zayadi, the governor of Muthanna province.
A Samawa police colonel told Reuters the hunters were being escorted by an Iraqi security detail but that it decided not to fight the large group of gunmen.
“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 3am local time on Wednesday,” the police colonel, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
Iraqi security forces have launched a wide-scale search for the group in the desert area where armed militia groups mainly predominate.
Qatar’s foreign ministry said it was working with the Iraqi government to secure their release “as soon as possible”.
It added the hunters had a government permit to visit the area.
Falconry hunters from various rich Gulf states often make trips to the south at this time of year, mainly because they do not face the tough restrictions of killing certain species they face at home.
This is the second high-profile abduction of foreigners in the country in three months. Eighteen Turkish citizens were seized in September but later released unharmed.