Philip Mertens, from christchurchwas captured early Tuesday morning by independence fighters from the West Papua Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Free Papua Organization, who attacked his single-engine plane shortly after it landed at Paro’s small airport.
Rebels threatened to execute the foreigners unless Indonesia recognized and liberated Papua from Indonesian colonialism.
The plane, operated by Indonesian airline Susi Air, was carrying five passengers and about 450 kg of supplies from Timika, a mining town in the neighboring Mimika district.
The rebels released the indigenous Papuan passengers and set the plane on fire, said Sevi Sambom, a spokesperson for the rebels.
West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) spokesman Sebby Sambom said: Telegraph: “We believe the soldiers in the field will take care of the New Zealand pilot,” he said, adding that activists in West Papua would use video and voice messages to “monitor” Mertens.
Soldiers had been told not to harm New Zealanders, he said.
“My sons will take care of him,” said Sangbum. “We are human, we understand, we understand about humanitarianism, but only Indonesia will come and kill [we are] animal.
Mertens, who is understood to be married with a young son at age 37, was specifically detained because of his military cooperation with Indonesia, as well as New Zealand, Australia and the United States, he said.
In a warning statement released Wednesday morning, Sambom confirmed that the New Zealand pilot is still alive.
He had been held hostage for negotiations with Jakarta, Sambom said in a statement published on social media.
“If Jakarta is stubborn, [the] The pilot will be executed,” Sambom said.
A fellow pilot and former colleague told the press thing Mertens was flying a “dangerous route” with a short runway over a steep hill.
“This shows that he is at risk to make money to support his family. Phil is the nicest guy. He really is – nobody said anything bad about him It is not.”
Conflict in the region has surged over the past year, killing dozens of rebels, security forces and civilians.
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/philip-mehrtens-west-papua-national-liberation-rebels-new-guinea-jungle-b1059323.html Rebels who kidnapped a New Zealand pilot moved him deep into the jungles of Papua New Guinea