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Still no sign of kidnapped pair

Published: 7:02AM Friday August 18, 2006 Source: RNZ

There has still been no sign of two journalists, including a New Zealander, kidnapped in the Gaza Strip three days ago. 

New Zealand cameraman Olaf Wiig and American reporter Steve Centanni were snatched by gunmen while on assignment in Gaza City.                                   

New Zealand diplomats trying to find out what happened to the pair, have so far had no success. 

Despite that, family, friends and supporters remain optimistic the pair will be returned.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the Palestinian Authority has been trying to confirm initial information about who might have taken the pair. 

Ministry spokesperson John Larkindale says senior New Zealand diplomat Peter Ryder, who can speak Arabic,  is heading to the region.  He will replace the ambassador to Israel, Jan Henderson, who has been in the centre of diplomatic efforts in Gaza to find the journalists. 

The Auckland student held hostage for months in Iraq has added his voice to those calling for Wiig's release. 

Harmeet Sooden has released a statement of support, imploring those holding the two men to free them immediately and unharmed. 

Sooden says he made the statement to possibly facilitate a release, and also in the greater context of what is happening in the Palestinian Territories. 

Prime Minister Helen Clark says she is confident, having spoken to the Palestinian president, that no stone is being left unturned in the search for Wiig and his colleague. 

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