TIMIKA, KOMPAS.com - Negotiations are ongoing to free the New Zealander pilot of Susi Air, Phillip Mark Mehrtens, from the armed criminal group, according to Papua police chief Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri.
Mehrtens was abducted by the armed criminal group, led by Egianus Kogoya, who also torched the Susi Air Pilatus Porter PC 6 aircraft piloted by him shortly after landing at the Paro Airfield, Nduga district, highland Papua, on Feb. 7.
The police chief confirmed that Kogoya and his accomplices had brought Mehrtens away from the Paro region and left the Nduga district to enter neighboring districts.
He affirmed that the police and military officers will constantly monitor Kogoya's movement.
"We hope the military and the police could soon free pilot Phillip without causing casualties from any side, including civilians," Fakhiri said.
Despite being time-consuming, negotiations will be pursued to prevent casualties of the hostage or other parties, he said.
Meanwhile, Fakhiri confirmed that during the recent negotiation attempt, Kogoya had demanded firearms and ammunition in exchange for Mehrtens' freedom.
However, the authority will not fulfill the demand, as it is perilous and could disrupt security conditions or cause casualties, he said.
"We will surely not be fulfilling such demands," the police chief said.
Earlier, Indonesia Military (TNI) Chief Admiral Yudo Margono said that persuasion efforts would be prioritized to free the abducted pilot.
After attending a mass exercise in Denpasar, Bali, Wednesday, Feb. 22, he said that local authorities and local and customary figures serve as the intermediary in the negotiation effort.
Yudo affirmed that security officers continue to provide security to residents close to where the hostage was abducted and guard public facilities to prevent attacks on them by armed criminal groups.
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