A Qatari man releases his falcon
A Qatari man releases his falcon during a falcon contest at Qatar International Falcons and Hunting Festival at Sealine desert, Qatar January 29, 2016Reuters

A member of Qatar's ruling family, one of 26 hunters taken and held by kidnappers in Iraq four months ago has been freed along with a Pakistani member of the group.

The hunting party were grabbed from an Iraqi desert camp at dawn in Samawah province, close to the Saudi border. Qatari state media announced the release of the Qatari national, saying he and his Asian companion were kidnapped in Iraq.

"Efforts are still ongoing to free the rest of the 26 kidnapped," a statement published on the official QNA news agency said. The ministry did not name those released in the announcement Wednesday, according to AP.

The release of the two members of the hunting party appears to be the result of negotiations between the Iraqi government and Doha. The identity of the kidnappers remains unknown.

AFP reported discussions between the Shia and Sunni governments were ongoing to release the other hostages. It is unclear if any ransom was paid for the Qatari royal and the Pakistani hunter. Nine members of the party managed to escape the initial kidnapping after they fled across the Iraqi frontier with Kuwait.

Gulf Arabs from Qatar and elsewhere often go on hunting expeditions in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan for falcon hunting. The countries do not have the same conservation restrictions in place as the gulf states, where popular prey like as the houbara buzzard have been hunted to near-extinction.