Kidnapped Qatari released in Iraq, says foreign ministry

Large group of unidentified armed men abducted a group of at least 26 Qatari hunters from their camp in the desert near the Saudi border in December

(Getty Images - for illustrative purpose only)

(Getty Images - for illustrative purpose only)

One of more than two dozen Qataris kidnapped in the south of Iraq last year has been freed, along with an Asian man who was travelling with them, and Doha is working for the release of the rest, Qatar's foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

A large group of unidentified armed men abducted a group of at least 26 Qatari hunters from their camp in the desert near the Saudi border in December. At least nine members of the hunting group managed to escape and crossed into Kuwait.

"Efforts are continuing to liberate the rest of the kidnapped twenty-six," the ministry said in a statement, according to state news agency QNA. It gave no details of who had captured them or how the release was secured.

It also did not elaborate on the identity of the second man who had been freed along with the Qatari.

The group was kidnapped in a largely desolate expanse of territory where armed militia groups predominate and there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the abduction.

Hunting trips to Iraq's southern desert are popular among Gulf travellers in search of rare prey during winter months.

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