Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Qatari royals among 26 hunters kidnapped by gunmen in Iraq



Qatari Royals have been kidnapped by gunmen while out hunting in a remote desert area of southern Iraq after their armed guard abandoned them.



It emerged today that the gunmen kidnapped at least 26 Qatari falcon hunters, including members of the royal family, after they were snatched from their camp near Samawah province, 230 miles from Baghdad.

 Dailymail reports that the raid was carried out at around 3am this morning, said the area's governor, Faleh al-Zayadi, adding that around 100 kidnappers on 50 machine gun mounted SUVs launched the attack.

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,' the police colonel, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
It is the second high profile abduction in Iraq since September when 18 Turkish citizens were kidnapped.

Two police officers confirmed the kidnappings today and said Iraqi security forces had launched a wide scale search for the Qataris in Samawah, a largely desolate expanse where armed militia groups are known to operate.
Al-Zayadi said: 'An armed group driving dozens of pickup trucks kidnapped at least 26 Qatari hunters from their camp in the area of Busaya in the Samawah desert near the Saudi border.'

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the abduction but Iraq's Interior Ministry said they aimed 'to achieve political and media goals'.

Two Iraqi intelligence officers tasked with protecting the party were also taken, but later released. 
Qatar's foreign ministry has asked Iraq for 'details about the kidnapping' and urged them 'to work to release them as quickly as possible'. 

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