Source AP ©

Abducted 5-year-old girl found hidden in cupboard in New Zealand

New Zealand police said Friday they rescued a 5-year-old girl who was abducted from the sidewalk outside her home earlier this week.

Detective Inspector Steve Wood said the ethnic Chinese girl, Cina Ma, nicknamed Xin Xin by her family, was found hidden inside a cupboard in a house just a few streets from the family home in the northern city of Auckland where she was kidnapped Monday.

"Xin Xin is now safe and back in the care of her family," he told reporters.

A 25-year-old Chinese citizen was arrested and charged with assault, Wood said. "Further, more serious charges" are expected to be filed shortly, he added. He did not provide details.

Wood said he would not discuss any details about the suspect, the motivation for taking the child, or whether a ransom had been demanded or paid.

He also declined to say whether Xin Xin was found as a result of police appeals for the kidnapper to surrender to authorities.

"I hope the return of Xin Xin sends out a clear message that the New Zealand police will not tolerate offenses such as this," Wood told reporters.

The child's aunt, Hong Zhou, said she was "overjoyed and relieved" by Xin Xin's rescue. "The police have been working very, very hard ... and we feel very excited ... and emotional," she told TV3 News.

The girl was riding her bike on the sidewalk outside her home when a masked man pushed her into a car and sped off. Only Xin Xin's 8-year-old cousin witnessed the abduction.

The abduction occurred just two weeks after about 10,000 Asian New Zealanders protested against rising violence against their community in Auckland, the country's largest city and the home of most ethnic Asians.

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