Separatist fighters in Indonesia’s restive Papua area have captured a pilot from New Zealand and are holding him hostage after setting hearth to his airplane, the group stated in an announcement.
The pilot, recognized by native police as Philip Merthens, was captured after touchdown a industrial constitution flight at Paro Airport within the distant highlands of the Nduga regency on Tuesday.
Five passengers together with a child had been on the Susi Air flight, but it surely stays unclear what has occurred to them, Papua Police Chief Inspector Mathius Fakhiri advised reporters on Tuesday.
A search staff made up of police and army personnel has been despatched to the world.
On Tuesday, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) stated it had burned the airplane in an airfield and “arrested” the pilot earlier than taking him hostage.
“He is our second hostage,” TPNPB commander spokesperson Eganus Kogeya stated in an announcement seen by CNN, in what seemed to be a reference to an incident in 1996 when the Free Papua Movement held captive 26 members of a wildlife analysis mission within the neighboring district of Mapenduma. Some hostages had been held for greater than 4 months, in line with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
In the assertion, Eganus additionally demanded that every one incoming flights to Paro Airport be stopped and stated the pilot wouldn’t be launched till the Indonesian authorities acknowledged Papuan independence.
The Indonesian authorities designates the TPNPB as a terrorist group.
New Zealand authorities officers advised CNN they had been “aware of the situation involving a New Zealand pilot in Papua” and that the New Zealand embassy in Jakarta was offering consular help to the household.
Susi Air founder Susi Pudjiastuti said on Twitter that she was praying for the protection of the pilot and the passengers.
Separatist fighters in Indonesia’s easternmost area of Papua have been demanding independence because the area was introduced beneath Indonesian management following a controversial 1969 vote overseen by the United Nations.
However, combating within the impoverished however resource-rich area, the place the Indonesian army maintains a heavy presence, has escalated in recent times.
Rights teams within the area condemned the assault.
“We urge that the pilot and people being held hostage be released safely immediately. We also call on parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law,” stated Usman Hamid, the director of Amnesty International Indonesia.
He stated the incident confirmed civilians had been the victims of the “repetition of violence in the Papua region.”
“All parties must prioritize non-violence in order to save civilians,” he added.
Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher for Human Rights Watch, stated seizing hostages was a criminal offense.
“The National Liberation Army for West Papua should immediately and unconditionally release all hostages in Nduga,” Harsono stated.