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Iraqi journalist kidnapped from Baghdad home by gunmen

By Andrew V. Pestano
Iraqi journalist kidnapped from Baghdad home by gunmen
Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi, an Iraqi journalist who also works for Iraq's Ministry of Culture, was kidnapped Monday night by eight gunmen saying they were members of Iraqi security forces, who raided her home in Baghdad. Photo courtesy of Journalistic Freedoms Observatory

BAGHDAD, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Gunmen who said they were security personnel kidnapped Iraqi journalist Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi from her Baghdad home, Iraqi officials said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on security forces to "exert the utmost effort" to save Qaisi after she was kidnapped from her home in Baghdad's Saidiya district Monday night. Qaisi, 43, is also an employee of Iraq's Ministry of Culture.

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Ali Tamimi, governor of Baghdad, said the kidnapping was a "barbaric" act seeking to "persecute and muzzle journalists."

The Baghdad-based Journalistic Freedoms Observatory said eight armed men saying they were members of Iraq's security forces raided Qaisi's house, tied up her 16-year-old son, assaulted her brother-in-law and stole several items, including her car, gold and computers.

The gunmen took Qaisi to an unknown location, said Ziyad al-Ajeeli, head of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory.

BBC News reported a security source said the gunmen dressed in civilian clothes and drove pickup trucks with no licence plates.

On Monday, Qaisi published an article in which she criticized an Iraqi Ministry of Interior official for allegedly assaulting the principal of a school with a weapon in the southern city of Nasiriya for refusing to punish a student who had a confrontation with the official's daughter.

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