Twenty-six Qataris, including members of the royal family, were taken hostage in Iraq after more than 60 vehicles descended on their hunting encampment in the middle of the night, according to a local official.
The Qataris, who were on an authorized hunting expedition, were kidnapped in the Samawa desert near the Saudi border, Ahmed Al-Mutawaki, spokesman for Iraq’s southern Muthanna province, said by phone on Wednesday.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said it was in contact with Iraqi officials “at the highest levels” to work on freeing the captives as soon as possible, according to the official Qatar News Agency. It made no mention of royals being among the hostages.
Ahmed Jamal, a spokesman for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, said the government was working with security forces to track the kidnappers. Qatar’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs is expected to arrive in Baghdad on Thursday, he said.
Gulf nationals, especially from Qatar, come to Samawa every year for hunting, Al-Mutawaki said.
Kidnapping for ransom is common in Iraq, excluding Kurdish areas.