Separatists in Indonesia’s restive Papua location have launched photographs that they say display a New Zealand pilot taken hostage very last 7 days is in fantastic wellness, but pledged he would not be freed right up until authorities accept the independence of the location.
The pilot, Philip Mehrtens, who flew a aircraft operated by airline Susi Air, was kidnapped by fighters from the West Papua Countrywide Liberation Military (TPNPB) very last 7 days immediately after landing in the distant location of Nduga.
Reuters could not independently confirm the authenticity of the photographs, but a good friend of Mehrtens, who declined to be named due to the fact of the sensitivity of the concern, verified it was the pilot.
Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the TPNPB, shared photos and movies of a male putting on a jean jacket, surrounded by a team of about a dozen fighters, some armed with guns and bows.
“The Papuan army that has taken me captive to struggle for Papuan independence, they inquire for the Indonesian army to go property to Indonesia and if not, I will continue being captive for my daily life,” Mehrtens stated at one particular level in the movie.
A single of the fighters is keeping up the “Early morning Star” flag, a image of Papuan independence.
In a assertion accompanying the photographs, Sambom stated that the pilot was in fantastic wellness and that he was collateral in a political dispute.
Indonesia’s main safety minister Mahfud MD vowed in a movie late on Monday to make sure Mehrtens’ launch making use of “persuasive ways, due to the fact the precedence is his basic safety”, but stated could not rule out making use of “other approaches”, with out elaborating.
“Using civilians as hostage, for any explanation, is unacceptable,” he stated.
A spokesperson for New Zealand’s ministry of Overseas Affairs and Trade stated they had been conscious of the photos and movie circulating but declined to remark even further.
Indonesia’s easternmost provinces have been wracked with a minimal-stage fight for independence given that the source-loaded location was controversially introduced less than Indonesian manage in a vote overseen by the United Nations in 1969.
The conflict has escalated appreciably given that 2018, with professional-independence fighters mounting deadlier and a lot more regular assaults.