Separatist fighters in Indonesia’s restive Papua region have released a series of images depicting a New Zealand pilot who was kidnapped more than a week ago.
The photos, which were released on Tuesday, show the pilot, identified by local police as Philip Mehrtens, standing fully clothed and seemingly unharmed among a group of fighters wielding guns, bows and arrows, and other weapons.
Mehrtens was apprehended last week after landing a commercial Susi Air charter flight at Paro Airport in the remote Nduga regency’s highlands, with the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) claiming responsibility and claiming to have burned his plane.
Previously, the group demanded that all incoming flights to Paro Airport be halted, and stated that the pilot would not be released until the Indonesian government recognized Papuan independence.
The TPNPB posted Mehrtens’ photos to its Facebook page, along with a statement reiterating its position.
“TPNPB has admitted responsibility for the plane’s burning and the kidnapping of a Susi Air pilot who is a New Zealand citizen, and we keep our promise and are politically responsible,” the statement said.