Iraq gunmen kidnap campaigning female journalist

Gunmen have kidnapped an Iraqi female journalist who has campaigned against widespread corruption in the country.

Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi was taken from her home in the Saidiya district of the capital, Baghdad, on Monday night by men claiming to be security personnel.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered security forces to "exert the utmost effort" to save her.

On Monday, Ms Qaisi wrote an article in which she expressed anger that armed groups could act with impunity.

The article, published by the Aklaam website, criticised an interior ministry officer who she said had assaulted the principal of a school in the southern city of Nasiriya for refusing to punish a pupil who had quarrelled with his daughter.

"There is nothing worse in a country than humiliating a teacher; nothing is worse than neglect by those who carry weapons," Ms Qaisi wrote. "If the state is anxious to preserve its prestige, it should hold accountable whoever uses weapons illicitly.

Ms Qaisi, 43, works for the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat and a number of other local news websites.

She is also an employee of the Iraqi culture ministry, is active in the field of human rights, and has participated in recent protests against government corruption.

The head of the Baghdad-based Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, Ziyad al-Ajeeli, said eight armed men had arrived at Ms Qaisi's house at about 22:00 (19:00 GMT) on Monday, claiming to be members of the security forces.

Before taking Ms Qaisi to an unknown location, the gunmen tied up her 16-year-old son, assaulted her brother-in-law, and stole her car, gold, money, mobile phones and computers, Mr Ajeeli added.

A security source told the BBC that the gunmen had been dressed in civilian clothes and had driven unmarked pick-up trucks with no licence plates.

The governor of Baghdad, Ali Tamimi, denounced what he described as a "barbaric" act that sought to "persecute and muzzle journalists".

Iraq is considered one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist. Seven were killed in the country in 2016, according to Reporters Without Borders.


Gunmen abduct Iraqi journalist from her Baghdad home

© JFO
BAGHDAD (AP) — Gunmen kidnapped an Iraqi journalist after breaking into her Baghdad home, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday, a reminder of the dangers reporters face in a war-torn country where authorities have struggled to maintain security.

The Interior Ministry said Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi was abducted from her house in the southwestern Saydiyah neighborhood on Monday night. It called on residents to come forward with any information that might help the investigation. The ministry statement did not give details of the kidnapping.

Citing her family’s account, the head of the Baghdad-based Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, Ziyad al-Ajeeli, said eight gunmen arrived in at least two pickup trucks, claimed to be members of the security forces, and asked to search the house.

Once inside, they handcuffed al-Qaisi’s 16-year-old son, kept him in the kitchen and took gold, money, phones, laptops and a car, al-Ajeeli said. They also badly beat her brother-in-law, who lives next door, he added.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the security forces to investigate the kidnapping and to “exert the utmost effort” to save al-Qaisi.

Al-Qaisi, a veteran journalist and an employee of the Iraqi Culture Ministry, is a leading critic of the country’s endemic corruption.

On Monday, she published an article in a local media outlet criticizing an Interior Ministry officer who badly beat a school principal in front of students and teachers for refusing to punish a pupil who quarreled with the official’s daughter.

Iraq is considered one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, who have been frequently targeted by militant groups since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Dozens of journalists have been killed while covering military operations.


Gunmen kidnap Iraqi journalist

BAGHDAD — Unidentified gunmen broke into the house of a female journalist and activist in Baghdad late Monday night and kidnapped her, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said on Tuesday, a reminder of the dangers journalists face in a country where authorities have struggled to maintain security nationwide.

The Ministry’s statement didn’t give details on the circumstances surrounding the abduction of Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi from her house in Baghdad’s southwestern Saydiyah neighborhood. It called on residents to report any information that might benefit the investigation.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the security forces to investigate the kidnapping and to “exert the utmost effort” to save her.

Al-Qaisi, a veteran journalist and an employee of the Iraqi Culture Ministry, is considered one of the critics of the country’s endemic corruption.

On Monday, she published an article in a local media outlet, criticizing an Interior Ministry officer who badly beat a school principle in the southern city of Nasiriyiah in front of the pupils and teachers for refusing to punish a pupil who quarreled with his daughter.

Citing her family’s account, the head of the Baghdad-based Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, Ziyad al-Ajeeli, said that eight gunmen came in at least two pickup trucks, claiming to be members of the security forces and asked to search the house.

Once inside the house, they handcuffed al-Qaisi’s 16-year old son, kept him in the kitchen and walked off with gold, money, phones, laptops and her car, al-Ajeeli added. They also badly beat her brother-in-law who lives next door, he added.

War-torn Iraq is considered one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, who have been frequently targeted by militant groups since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Dozens of them have also been killed while covering military operations.

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