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Qatari Hunting Party Kidnapped in Iraq since 2015 Released | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A member of the Iraqi security forces patrolling the country’s border. (AFP)

A Qatari hunting party that had been kidnapped in Iraq for 16 months has been freed, announced the interior minister’s adviser Wahab al-Taee.

He told AFP that all 26 members of the party have been freed and handed over to a Qatari delegation in Baghdad on Friday.

“The interior ministry has received the Qatari hunters, all 26 of them,” Taee, said. “They will be handed over to the Qatari envoy.”

He said the hunters were currently in Baghdad undergoing identity checks by Iraqi officials and would be handed over to a Qatari delegation that has been waiting for them in the capital since last week.

The group of hunters was kidnapped on December 16, 2015 during a hunting trip in southern Iraq.

It is likely that the “Hezbollah Brigades”, which is close to Lebanon’s “Hezbollah”, was behind the abduction.

The Gulf Cooperation Council had condemned the kidnapping, saying that it “harms fraternal ties between Arabs.”

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari had declared days after the kidnapping that his government had nothing to do with it, stressing that Baghdad was exerting all efforts to free the hostages.