Qatar has announced that it is sending high-level officials to work on the immediate release of its citizens who were abducted during a hunting trip in Iraq.

In an official statement on Wednesday, the foreign ministry said Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi, the assistant foreign minister; and Zayed bin Saeed al-Khayareen, Qatar's ambassador to Baghdad, have been "dispatched" to "secure the safety of the Qatari citizens".

The statement said the Qatari nationals entered southern Iraq "with official permission" from the Iraqi interior ministry and the Iraqi embassy in the Qatari capital, Doha.

The statement did not say how many Qataris were abducted.

An earlier AFP news agency report quoted Faleh al-Zayadi, governor of Iraq's Muthanna province, as confirming that the Qatari hunters were abducted while they were in a camp near the Bassiyah area.

Some reports said there were 26 Qataris.

The abduction comes a little over three months after armed men seized 18 Turkish nationals in Baghdad.

The Turkish workers were later freed unharmed, two of them in the southern province of Basra and the other 16 on the road to Karbala, also south of Baghdad.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies