The released hunting party members at the border crossing. Image Credit: Al Anba

Kuwait: Nine members of the Qatari hunting party kidnapped in southern Iraq have been released, reports in Kuwait said.

The members whose identity was not revealed arrived late on Wednesday in Abdali, the crossing point between the Kuwait and Iraq, where they were welcomed back by the Qatari ambassador to Kuwait Hamad Bin Ali Al Hanzab. Two of them were injured, but no details emerged about their wounds.

Efforts are being intensified to secure the release of the other hunting party members.

Reports said that 19 members were Qatari nationals and that the other seven were non-Qataris. A Kuwaiti daily said that one of the abducted hunters was a Kuwaiti citizen.

Iraqi officials on Wednesday said that around 100 gunmen kidnapped the hunters in southern Iraq.

According to Kuwaiti daily Al Anba, the hunting party comprised 42 Qatar-registered vehicles that drove into Iraq through the Abdali crossing about 20 days ago. Some of the hunters were members of the Qatari ruling Al Thani family. The party had the required licences to hunt in the southern part of Iraq.

In the Qatari capital Doha, the foreign ministry said in a statement that it was “following the kidnapping of a number of Qatari citizens who entered southern Iraq on a hunting trip, immediately after it received the news.”

“The ministry started contacts with the Iraqi government and concerned entities at the highest security and political levels in Iraq in order to find out the details of the Qatari citizens’ abduction and works on their release as soon as possible, stressing that they entered the Iraqi territories through an official permit from the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and in coordination with the Iraqi embassy in Doha,” the statement said.

The Assistant Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi and Qatar’s Ambassador to Baghdad Zayed Bin Saeed Al Khayareen were delegated to follow on procedures taken in this regard with the Iraqi government in order to ensure the safety of the Qatari citizens, the ministry said.