Qatari royals among group of abducted hunters
The Qatari hunter released with his Pakistani companion nearly four months after being abducted while on a hunting trip was a member of the royal family, it has emerged on Thursday.
"Efforts are still ongoing to free the rest of the 26 kidnapped," a brief statement published by Qatar's official QNA news agency said.
It remains unclear whether any other Qatari royals were still being held, however, Faleh al-Zayadi, the governor of Muthanna province where the hunters were seized, told AFP at the time that "a number of members" of the Qatari ruling family were among those abducted.
Qatari authorities have not provided further details into the abduction and it is unknown whether a ransom was paid to free the two captives.
The group's hunting expedition in Iraq was officially licensed, according to Qatari officials, but Iraq's interior ministry said they did not abide by instructions to avoid unsecured areas.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the abduction, though al-Zayadi confirmed the kidnappers were heavily armed and travelled in "dozens" of vehicles.
Doha has exerted pressure on Iraqi authorities since December, suggesting it had a "responsibility" to free all those who had been kidnapped.
The Gulf Cooperation Council also demanded "decisive and immediate measures" to secure the release of the hunters.
Suicide attacks, lawlessness and abductions have become a regular occurrence in Iraq, where years of violence have rocked the country as US-backed government forces battle Islamic State group militants.