Fri, Sep 16, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Man threatens to blow up self over cancelation of visa


New Zealand police prepared for an all-night siege yesterday as a 57-year-old Slovak man threatening to blow himself up because his student visa was canceled refused to surrender after an 11-hour stand-off.

The center of the North Island port city of Tauranga remained cordoned off as the man, who claims to have a bomb, remained holed up in a luxury hotel and continuing to demand to speak to Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Police brought in reinforcements to relieve officers who had been manning a cordon since shortly after 11am, when the man entered the Devonport Towers Hotel with a backpack and two large suitcases, Radio New Zealand reported.

Desperate to stay

A hotel worker told reporters the man was upset that Clark and officials had not replied to his letters about the loss of his visa.

A former roommate said that he was desperate to stay in New Zealand.

Shops and offices in the center of the city were evacuated as police negotiated with the man, who the TV3 channel said had been studying at a South Island cult college run by a Chinese woman psychic that had its official accreditation taken away.

Clark, who was busy campaigning in Auckland ahead of tomorrow's general election, was briefed on the situation.

Sit out the drama

Police, who admitted they did not know if the man did have a bomb but said they were taking the situation seriously, were prepared to sit out the drama all night in the hope he would give himself up without anyone being hurt, Radio New Zealand reported.

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