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Pilot taken hostage by rebels a year ago appears in heartbreaking new video to his family


Philip Mark Mehrtens

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More than a year after he was taken hostage by West Papua rebels, new footage has emerged of pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens.

The New Zealand native, 38, appeared pale as he sent a message to his wife and six-year-old son.

The West Papua Liberation Army has held Mr Mehrtens captive since February 7 last year, when they stormed his single-engine plane shortly after it landed at a small airport in Paro, Indonesia.

Leader of the rebels, Egianus Kogoya, said he took the pilot hostage as part of their struggle ‘to free Papua’ from Indonesia.

Mr Mehrtens said on the video: ‘It’s me. I’m OK, they are treating me well… I’m trying to stay positive and I hope that you and Jacob are healthy and doing OK and getting support.

‘I love you both lots and miss you both lots and hope to be able to talk with you soon.’

Philip was seen in a video released last week (Picture: Twitter)

The group has threatened to kill him multiple times (Picture: Twitter)

The footage was taken on December 23, 2023, but only released in recent days.

In a second video also released last week, the Kiwi pilot was seen pleading with the New Zealand government for help.

He asked: ‘Can you please help to get one or two ventolin inhalers just so that I have them available in case I get some asthma and, if possible, can I please get an e-book reader like a Kindle with as many English books as possible. 

‘That would be very much appreciated.’

The rebel group that has held Mr Mehrtens hostage has threatened his execution if their demands are not met.

In another video, he pleaded for help from the NZ government (Picture: Twitter)

He’s being held somewhere near Paro in Indonesia (Picture: Metro)

Conflicts between Indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the Papua region, where Mr Mehrtens was taken hostage.

It is a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea, that is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia.

Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a UN-sponsored ballot that was widely seen as a sham. Since then, a low-level insurgency has simmered in the mineral-rich region.

Conflict in the region has risen in recent years, with dozens of rebels, security forces and civilians killed.

In April last year, the Indonesian military had tried to reach Mr Mehrtens but six soldiers died after the rebel group attacked the rescue squad.

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Source:: Metro

      

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