NZ sends diplomats to seek release of journalists

August 15, 2006 06:24
1 minute read.

New Zealand was rushing diplomats to Israel on Tuesday to seek the release of two journalists - a New Zealander and an American - who were abducted by masked gunmen in Gaza City, Prime Minister Helen Clark said. The government was "very concerned" about the safety of New Zealand cameraman Olaf Wiig, Clark said. Wiig, 36, and American reporter Steve Centanni, 60, were working for Fox News when they were abducted Monday. The men, along with a bodyguard, were parked near the headquarters of the Palestinian security services when two trucks filled with gunmen pulled up and boxed them in, according to a Fox News employee. The gunmen took the two reporters out of their vehicle, which was marked "TV," and drove away, said the Fox employee in Gaza, who declined to give his name because he was not authorized to release information about the incident. Major terrorist groups in Gaza denied having any connection to the incident and there was no immediate word of any demands made. However, Wiig's wife, Anita McNaught, said Fox representatives told her negotiations for their release were already under way. "There will be people working through the Palestinian Authority, through the authorities in Gaza ... but Fox News are vastly experienced on the ground there, so they have all the contacts they need," said McNaught, who is a BBC World television presenter. McNaught, who is currently in Syria, told New Zealand's National Radio she intends to travel to the area overnight to help seek the release of the two men. "New Zealand diplomats are traveling to the region to work with other officials and governments on the release of Mr. Wiig and his colleague," Clark said. "We will be putting a team on the ground, so we can have direct liaison with the Authority," she said. New Zealand has no representation in the immediate area, and currently is working through British diplomats, she said.

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