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Family pleads for safe return of abducted girl
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The family of a five-year-old Chinese girl abducted from a well-to-do area of the New Zealand city of Auckland has made an impassioned appeal to the kidnapper to return her safely.

Ma Xinxin was riding her bicycle on the footpath of Corricvale Way, Albany, about 12.30 pm on Monday when a masked man driving a silver-colored car stopped, grabbed her, put her in the vehicle and sped away, The New Zealand Herald reported.

There had been no contact from the little girl or her abductor by midnight last night (New Zealand time).

At a packed media conference on Monday afternoon in Auckland, Xinxin's aunt, Zhou Hong, said her family was heartbroken over the incident and wanted the girl, occasionally referred to by police as Cina, back home.

She said the family, who had migrated to New Zealand, saw the country as a "paradise" for them.

"Xinxin is only five years old ... she will not understand what is going on," her aunt told The Herald. "She will be very frightened and she will want to be with her family."

Xinxin's mother, Zhou Jin, was also at the conference, weeping as Zhou Hong read from a statement.

Reporters asked questions as the pair left, including whether the family had been threatened or if there had been a ransom demand. No answers were forthcoming.

At an earlier media conference, Detective Inspector Steve Wood, who is heading investigations, refused to answer questions but said police feared for the girl's safety.

However, he said that other parents should not be concerned about further attacks as the kidnapping was "premeditated and the person had a knowledge of the area."

The Herald learned that Xinxin was heard screaming in Mandarin: "Let me go! I don't know you!" as she was abducted from outside her home. But only her eight-year-old cousin, Max, understood the words.

The grandparents of the little girl told The Herald if she had screamed for help in English, neighbors might have been able to intervene. They said they feared ransom may not have been the reason she was taken from outside her home in the wealthy Albany subdivision of Harrowglen.

Airport staff have been given a photo of Xinxin and asked to be on the alert.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Education Minister Chris Carter yesterday expressed concern and sorrow for a 15-year-old Chinese exchange student who was assaulted by a member of his host family.

Police were expected to lay charges, Xinhua news agency quoted Carter as saying.

Qian Ziyu, a student in a middle school in the South Island of New Zealand, was punched and injured by the father of his host family after a discussion about his transfer to another school, Xinhua said.

(Shanghai Daily July 16, 2008)

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