Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi, a known critic of Iraq's endemic corruption, has been abducted by eight gunmen. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered an investigation into the kidnapping.
Gunmen posing as members of the Iraqi security forces kidnapped Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi, an outspoken Iraqi journalist, from her home in Baghdad on Monday night.
According to family members, the unidentified gunmen forced their way into al-Qaisi's house, handcuffed her 16-year-old son and stole valuables before taking al-Qaisi to an unknown location.
Ziyad al-Ajili, head of the Iraqi Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, said there were eight gunmen that arrived in at least two pick-up trucks.
Al-Qaisi's brother-in-law, who lives next door in the southern Saydiya district of the Iraqi capital, was apparently badly beaten as he tried to fight off the kidnappers.
Al-Qaisi is a freelance journalist known for her criticism of corruption in Iraqi government institutions. She has written for various media outlets, including the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, and is also an employee of the Iraqi Culture Ministry.
On Monday she published an article on the Aklaam website condemning armed groups that "act with impunity" in Iraq.
In the article she also criticized an Interior Ministry officer who reportedly assaulted a school principal for refusing to punish a pupil who had quarreled with the officer's daughter.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the security forces to "exert the utmost effort" to save al-Qaisi. Iraq's Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that it had formed a team to investigate the abduction.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a press freedom nonprofit based in the United States, lists Iraq as the second-most deadly country for journalists in 2016, after Syria. Iraq also ranks second in the organization's "Impunity Index," which calculates the number of murders of journalists that go unpunished in relation to the size of the population.
Over the course of the past decade, 71 journalists have been killed with impunity in Iraq, according to the CPJ.