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Papuan fighters threaten to shoot NZ pilot hostage without independence talks

If independence talks do not begin, fighters in Indonesia’s Papua area have threatened to shoot a New Zealander pilot that they kidnapped in February.

The group made the demand in a video that was released on Friday. It shows an emaciated Phillip Mehrtens, holding the Morning Star flag – a symbol for Papuan Independence.

Mr Mehrtens was surrounded by Papuan warriors wielding rifles when he said that he wanted other countries to take part in the talks about the region’s bid to independence from Indonesia.

He said, “If the deadline is not met within two months then they are going to shoot me.”


The video has not been commented upon by the Indonesian Foreign Ministry or the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta.

The Indonesian authorities had previously stated that they were trying to negotiate for the release of the pilot, but have been unable to reach the area where he was being held.

The West Papua Liberation Army fighters have captured Mr Merhtens, after he landed a plane on the mountains of Nduga.

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He was helping 15 construction workers to escape after they were threatened with death for building a new health centre in a remote area.

Philip Mehrtens, a hostage taken in February. Photo: AP

According to Sebby Sambam, rebel spokesman, the passengers were released as they were Papuans.

The man, Mr Merhtens from Christchurch, works for the Indonesian company Susi Air.

Separatists often mistakenly believe that outsiders in Papua, an impoverished yet resource-rich region in the east of the country which shares a border with Papua New Guinea, are government spies

Papua was annexed to Indonesia by a controversial vote in 1969. Since then, there has been a violent insurgency between the indigenous people and the security forces.

The number of conflicts has increased in recent years as fighters are able to get better weapons.


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