Gunmen have kidnapped at least 26 Qatari hunters in a desert areaof Iraq near the Saudi border, officials say.
The attackers were driving "about 50" four-wheel drive vehicles when they swept into the hunters' camp at dawn on Wednesday, an Iraqi source told the BBC's Arabic service.
They struck near Layyah, 190km (118 miles) from Samawa, after arriving from the Nasiriya area, the source said.
A wide-scale search has been launched for the attackers, police say.
There was no immediate comment from the authorities in Qatar.
Iraq is one of several countries frequented by Gulf Arab huntsmen and falconers as they search for prey that either does not exist in their own countries or which has been almost hunted to extinction there.
Their favoured prey is the houbara bustard, akin to a small turkey, and to find it and other similar species Gulf hunters often travel to Morocco, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
They take with them their prized falcons, typically peregrines, sakers and lanners, which are expertly trained to home in on their quarry at high speed. According to a former CIA officer, in 1998 a CIA-run sniper team in Afghanistan observed Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda followers gathered at a camp near Kandahar but they were ordered to take no action for risk of harming the Emirati hunters who were with them.
Other Gulf hunting expeditions have even extended as far as the Central African Republic in search of big game.
Hunters from various Gulf states often travel to the area at this time of year.
The hunters had been escorted by Iraqi security forces but they decided not to engage a large number of gunmen, a Samawa police colonel told the agency.
"We are talking about at least 100 gunmen armed with light and medium weapons," he said.
Two unnamed Iraqi officials quoted by AFP news agency said "members of Qatar's ruling family" were among those kidnapped, without giving details.
More than 12 years after the US-led invasion and occupation, Iraq is still plagued by violent crime and militant attacks.
In September, 16 Turkish construction workers were freed a month after being kidnapped in the capital, Baghdad, apparently by Shia Muslim militants.