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Gaza Groups Deny Kidnapping Fox News Journalists | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip, AP – The wife of a kidnapped Fox News cameraman said Wednesday she’s been told by Palestinian officials her husband’s captors acted on their own, without support from militant groups.

The cameraman, Olaf Wiig, 36, of New Zealand, and Fox reporter Steve Centanni, 60, a U.S. citizen, were abducted Monday from their TV van near the Palestinian security services headquarters.

Major militant groups in Gaza have denied involvement and no public demands had been made.

Wiig’s wife, Anita McNaught, on Wednesday appealed to the kidnappers to free her husband and Centanni.

“The bottom line is there is no good reason for these two men to be held,” said McNaught, a BBC World presenter. “They are friends of the Palestinians. They are here telling the Palestinian story for weeks now, when the rest of the worlds media has not been here.”

Directing her words to her husband in the on-camera interview and choking back tears, McNaught said: “It’s going to be all right. You are going to come home to me.”

McNaught said she had just finished covering the war in Lebanon and was flying home through Damascus when she got the news of the kidnapping.

McNaught said she has been told by Palestinian officials that the kidnappers appear to be rogue gunmen without ties to any of the political groups in Gaza.

Scores of foreigners have been abducted in Gaza in recent years, most by gunmen with ties to the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a violent offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.

The ruling Hamas movement has not played a prominent role in kidnappings of foreigners. However, in June, Hamas-allied militants abducted an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in a cross-border raid, triggering a major Israeli offensive in the coastal strip.

Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas have been involved in efforts to free the journalists.

Jan Henderson, the New Zealand ambassador to Israel and Turkey, said Wednesday that Palestinian leaders have assured her and other diplomats they are doing everything they can to win the release of the hostages.

Henderson said she had made contact with diplomatic colleagues and senior Palestinian Authority figures, including in Abbas’ office, immediately after arriving in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

“They assured me they are doing all they can, they take this matter extremely seriously, and we are looking for a very quick and peaceful resolution,” Henderson said.

“The Palestinian Authority has offered every cooperation. They are very upset,” she said.