Qatar hunters abducted in Iraq desert by gunmen

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Baku, December 17 AZERTAC

Gunmen have kidnapped at least 27 Qatari hunters - including members of the ruling family - in a desert area of Iraq near the Saudi border, say police and the local governor.

The attackers were driving dozens of four-wheel drive vehicles when they swept into the hunters' camp at dawn on Wednesday, officials said.

A wide-scale search has been launched for the attackers, police say.

The Qatari foreign ministry released a statement saying it was working with the Iraqi government "at the highest security and political levels... to find out the details of the Qatari citizens' abduction and work on their release as soon as possible".

It said they had been hunting with official Iraqi permission - though Iraq's interior ministry accused the hunters of failing to abide by its instructions to remain inside secured areas.

Iraq is one of several countries frequented by Gulf Arab huntsmen and falconers as they search for prey that either does not exist in their own countries or which has been almost hunted to extinction there.

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