Iraqi PM says kidnapping of Qatari nationals a “crime”

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Baghdad ( Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has described the kidnapping of Qatari nationals in Iraq as a crime, vowing to exert efforts to release them.

Speaking in a press conference in Baghdad late Tuesday, Abadi said the Iraqi government had made efforts to release Qatari hunters kidnapped in Iraq for more than one year and a half.

He said the hunters had entered the country legally before they were reported kidnapped in the southern Iraq province of al-Muthanna.

Al-Muthanna province, south of Iraq

He labelled the incident an “insult” to Iraq, and said his government was anxious to set them free in collaboration with neighboring countries.

A week ago, the Associated Press, viewing U.S. State Department documents, reported that a Qatari ruling family had paid USD2 million to a U.S. security company called Global Strategies Council to secure “proof of life” and ultimately free relatives and other Qataris kidnapped in Iraq by gunmen.

About two dozen Qataris and their attendants were kidnapped in December 2015 while on a falconry hunt. Qatar said last year that two of those kidnapped were released.

On Tuesday, London-based, pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, quoted a negotiator close to the situation saying a Qatari delegation was in Baghdad to work on the issue.

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