Top Iraqi cleric calls for release of kidnapped Qatari royals

The country's Grand Ayatollah's procolmations are influential among Iraq's Shia majority; Shia militia are believed to be responsible for the kidnap of 26 Qatari hunters

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Iraq's leading Islamic cleric has called for the immediate release of 26 Qatari hunters, including members of the royal family, who were captured during a safari more than a week ago.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistan, Iraq's most important Shia cleric, on Friday called for the immediate release of the group who were abducted while on a government-approved safari in southern Iraq.

Ayatollah Sistani’s statement, released through his representative, Ahmed Al-Safi, said, “the central government must help to free all the abducted hunters” and called the kidnapping wrong and bound to “harm the country’s reputation,” according to the New York Times.

No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnap. There has been speculation that Shia militias in southern Iraq are responsible.

The ayatollah's proclamations are influential among Iraq’s Shia majority.

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