Qatari hunting party kidnapped in southern Iraq

Qatari hunting party kidnapped in southern Iraq
Iraqi gunmen have kidnapped 26 members of a Qatari hunting party in southern Iraq, which includes members of the state's royal family.
1 min read
16 December, 2015
Hunting is a popular pastime in Iraq [AFP]
Twenty-six Qatari men, including members of the royal family, have been kidnapped by an armed group in southern Iraq on Wednesday.

The Qatari men were camping during a hunting trip close to the Saudi border when they were attacked by at least 100 gunmen carrying light weapons. 

Around 70 4X4 vehicles were used to surround the hunting crew at around 3am local time.

"Unknown gunmen in dozens of pick-up trucks attacked a place where Qatari hunters were located," the official said.

Two officials said that members of Qatar's ruling family were among those kidnapped but did not identify them by name.

The men had recieved permits from Iraq's ministry of interior to hunt with falcons, the source said.

News circulating on social media networks suggest that the men are safe and will be released soon.

This is second high-profile seizure of foreign nationals in the country in three months.

Qatar's foreign ministry confirmed that its citizens had been kidnapped and that officials were working for their release.

Kidnappings have become common during the past 12 years, when chaos erupted after the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Shia militias and criminal gangs are active in Baghdad and the south of Iraq, kidnapping foreign and Iraqi civilians for ransom.

In September, 18 builders working on a football stadium in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

They were released in September and returned back to Turkey.