Australian professor, researchers taken hostage in Papua New Guinea
Several researchers, including local academics and an Australian professor, have been kidnapped and held hostage in Papua New Guinea.
An armed gang in Papua New Guinea has kidnapped an Australian professor and his three colleagues and is seeking a ransom from both the Papuan and Australian governments, according to reports in the media on Monday.
According to Australian broadcaster ABC News, the professor and his team of researchers, which also included a research program coordinator and two University of Papua New Guinea graduates, were conducting field research in the country's isolated Highlands Region when they were ambushed by armed men.
An Australian professor and three colleagues, who were conducting a field study in a remote part of Papua New Guinea’s Highlands, have been taken hostage.— ABC Pacific (@ABCPacific) February 20, 2023
Read more: https://t.co/KsFR4tJryE pic.twitter.com/qyOUCRbB1F
Papua New Guinean authorities have begun talks with the kidnappers, according to Prime Minister James Marape. "I just want to inform the families of those taken hostage that we have been at work and contact has been made with people in the bush," Marape told journalists, as quoted by the broadcaster.
The prime minister went on to say that missionaries in the area were acting as mediators in talks with the criminals.
Earlier this month, in the western part of the New Guinea island, local separatist groups fighting for independence from Indonesia kidnapped a New Zealand pilot and demanded that the Indonesian government stop using force against rebels.