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Australian Pilot Freed After Being Kidnapped In Papua New Guinea

Last week, more than 50 bodies were discovered on the side of a highway.

Port Moresby:

An Australian helicopter pilot and two local contractors who were kidnapped at gunpoint in the insecure highlands of Papua New Guinea have been released unharmed, police and airline spokespeople said on Monday. Police said the three were taken on Monday afternoon while on duty at a remote communications tower near Mount Sisa in central Hella province, but are now free, “safe and unharmed.”

As police and military closed in on the area, the attackers appeared to drop their demands and allow the trio to return to the helicopter and flee to safety.

“The kidnappers were warned through local leaders that deadly force would be used to free their prisoners,” Police Commissioner David Manning said.

“Security forces are now in the direct arrest phase of the operation to track down the kidnappers so that they can face justice,” he said.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Papua New Guinea’s highlands in recent years due to a spate of kidnappings and inter-tribal violence.

Last week, more than 50 bodies were found on the side of the road, the result of clashes between rival clans.

In 2023, a New Zealand archaeologist and two others were taken hostage at gunpoint at a location near this latest incident.

They were released, traumatized but apparently physically unharmed, after a tense week of negotiations with the kidnappers, who initially demanded a US$1 million ransom.

The government is under intense pressure to increase security resources in the region and combat growing illegal activity.

Prime Minister James Marape earlier told AFP that the government would deal harshly with kidnappers.

“We would like to remind everyone that crime does not pay and ultimately leads to the arrest and death of the criminal.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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