Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD has acknowleded that the pilot of Susi Air PK-BVY, Captain Philips Max Mehrtens, was taken hostage by the Armed Criminal Group (Kelompok Kriminal Bersenjata/KKB).
Mahfud stated that to this day Captain Mehrtens, a New Zealand citizen, has yet to be released.
“To this day a group of KKB people in Papua are still holding Captain Pilot Philips Mehrtens hostage, who has not been released,” Mahfud said in a press statement, Tuesday (14/2).
He also stated that the government continues to do its utmost to rescue Captain Philips who is being held hostage by the KKB. Mahfud said the government would prioritise a persuasive approach.
In line with that, the government is continuing communications with the New Zealand government. Mahfud emphasised that taking civilians hostage is unjustifiable for any reason.
“Persuasive efforts are the main guideline for the safety of hostages, but the government does not rule out other efforts,” he said.
In addition, Mahfud emphasised that Papua is a legitimate part of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) both constitutionally and in international law.
He also expressed his appreciation to the TNI, Polri, BIN, and related parties who worked seriously in handling this issue.
Susi Air PK-BVY aircraft was burned by KKB in Paro District, Nduga, Papua Mountains, Tuesday (7/2). The aircraft was carrying five passengers.
Until now, the whereabouts and fate of the pilot of the Susi Air aircraft are still a mystery. Meanwhile, the passengers have been successfully evacuated.
The West Papua National Liberation Army-Organisation of Free Papua (TPNPB-OPM) claimed responsibility for the arson. The group also claimed to be holding the pilot hostage.