Gunmen kidnap 26 Qataris in Iraq's southern desert

December 17, 2015 7:09 am 

BAGHDAD, Dec. 16 — Unidentifed gunmen kidnapped 26 Qatari citizens who were on a hunting trip in the desert in Iraq's southern Muthanna province, local media reported on Wednesday.

"Gunmen in 25 four-wheel drive vehicles late on Tuesday night stormed a camp of Qatari hunters deep in Smawa desert, which is part of Muthanna province, and kidnapped some 26 Qatari citizens," NINA news agency quoted the provincial governor, Falih Abdul Hassan Sukar, as saying.

The Qatari nationals who crossed the Iraqi-Saudi border to the Smawa desert "have got visas and permissions from the Iraqi interior ministry, but they didn't inform the provincial authorities, who previously rejected their presence because the security forces cannot protect the visitors in the vast desert," Sukar said.

Ahmed Manfi, head of security committee of Muthanna's provincial council, told reporters that "the details about the abduction are unknown yet, but a probe has been launched into the incident and a force from the provincial police was dispatched to the desert for a search campaign."

The deserts and valleys of the provinces of Muthanna, Basra and Dhi Qar in southern Iraq have gained popularity as hunting grounds, attracting visitors from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, to explore the vast wilderness in the three southern provinces. (PNA/Xinhua)

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