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December 28, 2016updated 03 Jan 2017 10:10am

Journalist critic of corruption in Iraq abducted by eight gunmen

By Dominic Ponsford

Gunmen have kidnapped an Iraqi journalist after breaking into her Baghdad home.

The interior ministry said Afrah Sawqi al-Qaisi was abducted from her house in the south-western Saydiyah neighbourhood on Monday night, and it called on residents to come forward with any information that might help the investigation.

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 pick-up trucks, claimed to be members of the security forces and asked to search the house.

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

Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi ordered the security forces to investigate the kidnapping and to “exert the utmost effort” to save the journalist.

Ms 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 criticising an interior ministry officer who badly beat a school principal in front of students and teachers for refusing to punish a pupil who quarrelled with the official’s daughter.

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The abduction is a reminder of the dangers reporters face in a war-torn country where authorities have struggled to maintain security.

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

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