Kidnapped Qatari hunter released in Iraq

Kidnapped Qatari hunter released in Iraq
One member of a group of Qataris kidnapped in Iraq last year has been freed, along with an Asian man who was travelling with them, Qatar's foreign ministry has revealed.
2 min read
06 April, 2016
Desert hunting trips are popular among Gulf travellers in search of rare prey [AFP]

A Qatari man and his Asian companion have been freed after being abducted during a hunting trip in Iraq last December, Qatar's foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Efforts are still ongoing to free the remaining members of the hunting party, the ministry added.

The ministry did not give any details on the kidnappers or how the release was secured.

In December last year, a large group of unidentified armed men abducted the men from their desert camp near the Saudi border.

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

At least nine members of the hunting group managed to escape and cross into Kuwait.

They were transported by air ambulance to hospital for treatment, Kuwait's al-Watan newspaper reported at the time, without clarifying how many victims suffered from injuries or how severe their injuries were.

The Qatari government said at the time that the hunters had the necessary permits to be in the area, but Iraq's interior ministry said that they did not abide by instructions to avoid unsecured areas.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the abduction, but there were speculations that Shia militias in southern Iraq were responsible, The New York Times reported in December.

Two weeks after the kidnapping of the Qatari hunters, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the Iraqi government to "do everything possible to ensure their prompt and safe release".

Hunting trips to Iraq's southern desert are popular among Gulf travellers in search of rare prey during winter months.