BAGHDAD (AP) -- An Iraqi official says gunmen have abducted up to 26 Qatari hunters in southern Iraq.
Ahmed Manfi, a member of the Samawah provincial council, told The Associated Press that the gunmen raided the hunters' camp in a remote desert area at dawn Wednesday, snatching between 19 and 26 Qataris.
Manfi added that two Iraqi intelligence officers were also abducted, but were later released.
Samawah is located on the Euphrates River, about 370 kilometers (230 miles) southeast of Baghdad.
Hunters from Gulf states, mainly Qatar, often visit Iraq's western and southern desert areas for hunting and purchasing falcons. Iraqi authorities approve the expeditions and provide protective forces.