Gunmen have kidnapped at least 27 Qatari hunters – including members of the ruling family – in a desert area of Iraq near the Saudi border, say police and the local governor.
The attackers were driving dozens of four-wheel drive vehicles when they swept into the hunters’ camp at dawn on Wednesday, officials said.
They struck near Layyah, 190km (118 miles) from regional capital, Samawa.
A wide-scale search has been launched for the attackers, police say.
There was no immediate comment from the authorities in Qatar.
The remote area where the incident took place is highly tribal in nature and a Shia region, reports the BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut.
The Shia political parties which dominate the Iraqi government are highly critical of Qatar’s role in supporting Sunni rebels in Syria – so this is bound to be a serious diplomatic incident, he says.