Pilot freed hours after group were kidnapped ‘at gunpoint’ in Papua New Guinea 

Papua New Guinea
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An Australian helicopter pilot and two passengers have been freed hours after they were kidnapped at gunpoint in a remote corner of Papua New Guinea. 

The pilot and two Papua New Guinean subcontractors had flown to a telecoms site near Mount Sisa in the province of Hela on February 26, 2024, when they were approached by armed gunman.  

David Manning, the police commissioner of Papua New Guinea, said that security forces initiated negotiations with the group and secured the release of the abductees without harm. 

“Following a rapid deployment of security force elements, the Australian pilot of a Hevilift helicopter and two Papua New Guinean subcontractors have been released without harm,” Commissioner Manning said according to ABC News Australia following news of the group’s release. 

Security forces flooded the remote area in search of the missing men and were authorized to use deadly force if the need arose. 

Manning said that the pilot and subcontractors were taken in “connection with a compensation claim”. 

Police and security forces are understood to be still searching for the kidnappers. 

“Our country has had enough of these domestic terrorists, who are undermining the safety and security of our communities, and they have no place walking free. These criminals will be caught, or they will be killed in the process,” Manning added.  

A New Zealand pilot who was kidnapped on February 7, 2023, by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) is also set to be released soon

Philip Merthens was taken when his commercial charter plane carrying five passengers was targeted after it landed safely at Paro Airfield in the remote region of Nduga. 

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