Members of Qatar’s ruling family were among at least 26 people kidnapped by gunmen in Iraq on Wednesday morning, it has been reported.
Faleh Al Zayadi, the governor of Muthanna province in southern Iraq where the group was seized, told Agence France-Press: “[Dozens of gunmen] kidnapped 27 [at least 26] Qatari hunters…when they were in a camp near the Bassiyah area.
“All of those kidnapped are Qatari and a number of members of the ruling family in Qatar are among them.”
The kidnappers reportedly used more than 50 pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns when they attacked at around 3am on Wednesday.
Qatar’s foreign ministry has contacted the Iraqi government to obtain “details about the kidnapping of the Qatari citizens and to work to release them as quickly as possible”, it said in a statement, according to state news agency QNA.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s assistant foreign minister for political affairs, Mohammed Al Rumaihi, has been dispatched to Baghdad to coordinate with Iraqi authorities “to ensure the safety of the Qatari nationals”, QNA added.
Al Zayadi said that two Iraqi officers providing security for the party were also taken but later released.
It is common for wealthy families from Gulf states to travel to countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq to hunt with falcons.
However, there is significant hostility in Iraq, especially in the Shiite-majority south, over the Gulf’s policies on the Syrian civil war, Agence France-Press reported.