CrisisWatch Indonesia

Unchanged Situation

Separatist fighters in Papua region kidnapped New Zealand pilot, demanding govt recognise region’s independence.

Members of West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) – military wing of Free Papua Organisation – 7 Feb took hostage New Zealand national and Susi Air pilot Philip Mehrtens in Paro District of Nduga regency, Papua region, demanding govt recognise Papua’s independence in return for his release. TPNPB 9 Feb claimed it sought to bring “ongoing state of human suffering and war in West Papua to the attention of the international media and world community” and reiterated demands, including that foreign govts cease training and arming Indonesian security forces. Reports during month suggested dialogue was under way to secure Mehrtens’ release; Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD 28 Feb said security forces had surrounded hostage takers but would refrain from action that could endanger pilot’s life.

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