Kidnapped New Zealand pilot shown in Indonesia rebels’ photos and videos

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Separatist rebels in Indonesia’s restive Papua province launched pictures and movies Tuesday of a person they stated is the pilot from New Zealand whom they took hostage final week.

Phillip Mark Mehrtens of Christchurch, a pilot for Indonesian aviation firm Susi Air, was kidnapped by independence fighters from the West Papua Liberation Military, the armed wing of the Free Papua Motion, who stormed his single-engine airplane shortly after it landed on a small runway in Paro in distant Nduga district.

Papuan separatist rebels pose for a photo with a man they said is New Zealander pilot Phillip Mark Mehrtens at an undisclosed location in Papua province, Indonesia.
Papuan separatist rebels pose for a photograph with a person they stated is New Zealand pilot Phillip Mark Mehrtens at an undisclosed location in Papua province, Indonesia. West Papua Liberation Military / through AP

The airplane, carrying 5 passengers, was scheduled to choose up 15 development employees who had been constructing a well being heart in Paro after a bunch of separatist rebels led by Egianus Kogoya threatened to kill them, stated Nduga district chief Namia Gwijangge.

“Our plan to evacuate the employees angered the rebels, who responded by setting fireplace to the airplane and seizing the pilot,” stated Gwijangge, who was one of many passengers. “We deeply remorse this incident.”

Flying is the one sensible manner of accessing many components of the mountainous space.

The rebels launched all 5 passengers as a result of they’re indigenous Papuans, insurgent spokesperson Sebby Sambom stated earlier.

Sambom despatched movies and pictures Tuesday to The Related Press that confirmed a bunch of gunmen, led by Kogoya, setting fireplace to the airplane on the runway. Sitting within the airplane’s cockpit, Kogoya stated he took the pilot hostage as a part of their battle “to free Papua” from Indonesia.

One other video confirmed a person recognized as Mehrtens standing in a forest surrounded by a bunch of individuals armed with rifles, spears and bows and arrows. In a 3rd video, the person was ordered by the rebels to say, “Indonesia should acknowledge Papua is impartial.”

“I took him hostage for Papua independence, not for meals or drinks,” Kogoya stated within the video with the person standing subsequent to him. “He can be protected with me so long as Indonesia doesn’t use its arms, both from the air or on the bottom.”

Coordinating Minister for Political, Safety and Authorized Affairs Mohammad Mahfud stated the federal government was making each effort to influence the rebels to launch Mehrtens “as a result of the precedence is the security of the hostage.”

“Taking civilians hostage for any purpose is unacceptable,” Mahfud stated in a video assertion late Tuesday. He stated persuasion is the perfect technique to make sure hostage security, however “the federal government doesn’t rule out different efforts.”

He emphasised the federal government’s view that Papua is a part of Indonesia.

“Papua will ceaselessly stay a respectable a part of the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia,” Mahfud stated.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Overseas Affairs and Commerce stated Wednesday in an announcement: “We’re conscious of the pictures and video circulating however received’t be commenting additional at this stage.”

Papua police chief Mathius Fakhiri instructed reporters in Jayapura, the provincial capital, that authorities are looking for to acquire the pilot’s freedom by involving a number of group leaders, together with tribal and church figures, to construct communication and negotiate with the rebels.

Conflicts between Indigenous Papuans and Indonesian safety forces are widespread within the impoverished Papua area, a former Dutch colony within the western a part of New Guinea that’s ethnically and culturally distinct from a lot of Indonesia. Papua was included into Indonesia in 1969 after a U.N.-sponsored poll that was broadly seen as a sham. Since then, a low-level insurgency has simmered within the mineral-rich area.

The 15 development employees, who have been rescued Feb. 8 by safety forces, got here from different Indonesian islands to construct the well being heart in Paro. That they had taken refuge in a priest’s home within the village for a number of days after rebels threatened to kill them.

Separatists take into account civilian employees to be outsiders who typically spy for the Indonesian authorities.

Battle within the area has risen up to now yr, with dozens of rebels, safety forces and civilians killed.

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