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Qatari royals among 26 hostages freed in Iraq

Twenty-six hostages, including members of Qatar's ruling family, have been released after 16 months in captivity in Iraq.

Iraqi officials said they were released into the custody of the interior ministry.

The group was kidnapped in December 2015 from a desert camp for falcon hunters in southern Iraq.

The abduction sparked more than a year of negotiations between Iran, Qatar and the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, resulting in millions of pounds in payments to Sunni and Shiite factions.

No group had claimed responsibility for the abduction, though local Arabic media frequently cited suspicions that it was the Iraqi Shiite group Kata'eb Hezbollah. The group denies it was behind the kidnapping.

Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed earlier this week that a Qatari delegation was in the country to help with the group's release. The nationalities of the other hostages in the group have not been made public.

In April 2016, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said one of the hunters and an Asian worker on the trip had been freed.

An Iraqi security official said the group will leave Baghdad later on Friday.



From Belfast Telegraph