Gunmen abduct prominent female Iraqi journalist

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Gunmen have kidnapped an outspoken Iraqi journalist, Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi, after storming her home in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, security officials and the journalist’s sister said on Tuesday.

The gunmen were dressed in civilian clothes and arrived in three pickup trucks at the journalist’s home around 10 p.m. local time on Monday night, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The attackers stole cash, gold, a car and other possessions before they took her to an unknown location.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered security agencies to open an investigation into the case, calling for the prosecution of those responsible for the “intimidation of journalists.”

“Make utmost efforts in order to save her life and to preserve her safety,” a statement released by al-Abadi’s office said.

Al-Qaisi worked as a freelance journalist and her articles have appeared on several widely read news websites, including the London-based Asharq al-Awsat pan-Arab news site.
She also worked as an employee in the country’s Ministry of Culture.

Baghdad Governor Ali Mohsin al-Tamimi also condemned the incident in a statement released by his office.

Al-Qaisi’s sister, Nibras al-Qaisi, said that the journalist was in her house with her two sons when the gunmen stormed in. The journalist’s brother-in-law was beaten by the kidnappers as he tried to fend them off.

“Please release her for the sake of her children,” Nibras al-Qaisi said,
“I don’t know what to do, I am so scared.”

The organization Reporters Without Borders says Iraq is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists.

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