Pilot from New Zealand who was taken hostage, appears in picture with rebels
The Separatist fighters in Indonesia have released pictures which have a pilot from New Zealand who was taken hostage more than a week ago. The pilot who is identifies as Philip Mehrtens is seen standing fully clothed and apparently uninjured among a group of fighters who are holding guns, bows and arrows and other weapons.
He was captured last week, after landing a commercial Susi Air charter flight at Paro Airport in the remote highlands of the Nduga regency.
The he West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) have claimed responsibility and said it had burned his plane. The group previously demanded that all incoming flights to Paro Airport be stopped and said the pilot would not be released until the Indonesian government acknowledged Papuan independence.
The New Zealand Ministry of foreign affairs said that it is “aware of the photos and video circulating but won’t be commenting further at this stage.” The Indonesian government designates the TPNPB as a terrorist group.
According to police reports, there were five passengers in the plane, however, there is no news about their whereabouts.