New Zealand pilot held hostage by West Papua rebel group

Demonstrators in Jakarta call for an independent West Papua, photo December 1, 2022

NOS NewsAmended

A pilot from New Zealand has been kidnapped in the Indonesian province of Papua. The 37-year-old man has been held hostage by a separatist rebel group, which says it will not release him until West Papua’s independence is recognized.

A small plane with five passengers was stormed after landing by members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB). The passengers were released because they are Papuans, a TPNPB spokesman said on Facebook. The pilot is alive, according to the rebels, but if the Indonesian government does not agree to the demands made, “he will be executed”.

The New Zealand government confirms the hostage-taking. “The family is receiving consular assistance,” said Prime Minister Hipkins. A spokesman for the local police says that officers and soldiers are looking for the missing pilot. Attempts are also being made to establish contact with the rebels.

Violence has recently flared up in the provinces of Papua and West Papua. Dozens of rebels, civilians and soldiers have been killed.

TPNPB holds, among others, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and the United Nations jointly responsible for the bloodshed. “These countries have been supplying Indonesia with weapons to kill indigenous Papuans for 60 years,” said the spokesman.

The Indonesian government has not yet publicly responded to the rebel movement’s demands.

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