Armed men posing as members of security forces have kidnapped an Iraqi journalist from her home in Baghdad. Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi, also identified as Afrah Shawqi Hammudi, was seized around 10pm Monday in the Saidiya neighborhood, say security officials. "Eight armed men burst into her house in Saidiya dressed in plain clothes and entered by pretending to belong to the security forces," a rep for the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory tells the AFP. He tells the BBC that the men tied up al-Qaisi's 16-year-old son, beat her brother-in-law, and stole money along with al-Qaisi's car, computers, and cellphones. Earlier Monday, al-Qaisi had published an article on a local news website that criticized armed groups that "act with impunity" in Iraq.
The freelance writer, 43—who also works for Iraq's culture ministry but recently protested against government corruption—had also condemned an interior ministry official whom she accused of assaulting a school principal who didn't punish a student who'd fought with the official's daughter, per the BBC. Baghdad Governor Ali al-Tamimi describes the kidnapping as a "barbaric" act meant to "persecute and muzzle journalists." In a statement, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi calls for an urgent investigation into al-Qaisi's kidnapping and presses authorities to "make utmost efforts in order to save her life and to preserve her safety," reports CNN. "Please release her for the sake of her children," adds her sister. "I am so scared." (Read more Iraq stories.)