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Qatari hostages held in Iraq since 2015 freed

Men were abducted by gunmen during a licensed hunting expedition in Iraq near the Saudi border

Gulf News

Doha: Qatari citizens held hostage in Iraq by unidentified gunmen since 2015 have been freed and handed over to the Iraqi interior ministry, Qatar-based Al Jazeera reported on Friday.

The satellite channel gave no further details on the release of the hostages, who were seized by gunmen in December 2015 while on a hunting trip near the border with Saudi Arabia.

An Iraqi security official later said Iraq would hand over the 26 hostages to Qatar’s ambassador to Baghdad.

In April last year, a member of the Qatari royal family and a Pakistani were released after four months in captivity.

The pair were among 26 hostages detained from the hunting trip.

The hunting party was in Iraq on an officially licensed expedition and Doha has put pressure on the government in Baghdad to help secure the hostages’ release.

Gulf Arabs often brave the risks of travel to countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Iraq to hunt with falcons without the bag limits and conservation measures they face at home.