Kidnapping in Papua New Guinea: Release of archaeologist Bryce Barker and associates

After being held hostage by an armed group in Papua New Guinea for a week, an archaeologist and two of his colleagues have been freed (PNG).

Professor Bryce Barker, an Australian citizen who is from New Zealand, was initially kidnapped at gunpoint while on a field study expedition close to Mount Bosavi with three other people.

On Thursday, one of the group was set free.

According to the leader of PNG, the group was freed without having to pay the demanded ransom.

The kidnappers demanded 3.5 million Papua New Guinean Kina ($994,000; £832,000), according to Prime Minister James Marape, but the captives were freed “via covert operations.”

He remarked, “We apologize to the families of those held captive for ransom.” “Crime is not profitable to criminals. We give God praise that life was preserved.”

Bryce Barker and his colleagues were released, according to PNG’s prime minister, without a ransom being paid.
The women imprisoned alongside Professor Barker were identified by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) as Jemina Haro, Teppsy Beni, and Cathy Alex, all members of his study team.

Vice-Chancellor Geraldine Mackenzie of the University of Southern Queensland, where Professor Barker is employed, expressed relief over his safety.

She referred to the professor as a “well regarded archaeologist and a valued colleague” who has conducted study in the area for a considerable amount of time.

On social media, Nanaia Mahuta, the foreign minister of New Zealand, posted that her nation “welcomes the safe release of captives in PNG including a NZer.”

She continued by saying, “Tenkiu tru for your leadership and cooperation governments of PNG and Australia,” which translates to “thank-you very much” in the PNG creole language Tok Pisin or Pidgin.

The PNG government has also been thanked by Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, for “its leadership in delivering a safe & peaceful resolution.”

Unrest in Papua: Philip Mehrtens meets TPNPB combatants in video footage supplied to the BBC
It is believed that New Zealand pilot Philip Mehrtens is still being kept captive in nearby Papua, which is under Indonesian sovereignty.

After putting down his aircraft in the isolated mountain district of Nduga in Papua, he was abducted more than two weeks ago.

In exchange for independence for Papua, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), a rebel organization that opposes Indonesian control, has promised to free Mr. Mehrtens.

Likewise, Indonesian authorities announced on Friday that they had increased security in the eastern town of Wamena after a disturbance that was prompted by reports of a kidnapped child claimed 10 lives.

Security personnel reportedly started shooting at residents when they attacked a police station and other structures under the impression that the police were holding the individual suspected of being responsible for the alleged kidnapping.

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