Papua New Guinean security forces have been authorised to use the full force of the law to secure the four captives being held hostage by an armed gang in Bosavi, Nipa-Kutubu, Southern Highlands province since Sunday.
Police Commissioner David Manning said the abductors were being offered “a way out”.
Manning described the gang as having no “established motive but greed”.
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“We are working to negotiate an outcome, it is our intent to ensure the safe release of all and their safe return to their families. However, we also have contingencies if negotiations fail,” he said.
“It is in everyone’s interest to ensure we progress this effort as responsibly and safely as possible.”
The four captive researchers are reported to be an Australian anthropology professor, a three women — a New Zealander and two PNG researchers.
“We have taken into consideration all factors and possible outcomes, we remain committed to ensuring a successful outcome,” said Commissioner Manning.
“We are satisfied with the amount of information that we are receiving, pointing us as to the area where they are kept and the identity of their captors.
“They can release their captives and they will be treated fairly through the criminal justice system, but failure to comply and resisting arrest could cost these criminals their lives.
“The full force of the law will be used to immobilise and apprehend the criminals,” Commissioner Manning said.
“Our specialised security force personnel will use whatever means necessary against the criminals, up to and including the use of lethal force, in order to provide for the safety and security of the people being held.”
Hela Governor Philip Undialu has called upon the captors of the four hostages to release them as they entered the second day of captivity.
In a response to questions by the Post-Courier, Governor Undialu said: “The location of the hostages is like two days’ walk from Komo with no communication network.
“The only access we have now is through a missionary based at Bosavi connected via a satellite phone.
“I have asked the LLG president, ward members and community leaders of Komo to find who’s missing in the community after speculation that some Komo youths are involved.
‘Act of terrorism’
“At this stage we do not have the identities of the individuals. Whatever the case maybe, no one has any right to abduct, kidnap, hold them hostage and ask for cash payment.
“This is an act of terrorism, like we hear of in other countries. Law enforcement agencies must take this seriously and deal with such crimes appropriately.”
His response comes after police said the armed men were allegedly from Komo in Hela.
He said that the situation was being closely monitored by the government.
Prime Minister James Marape, who is in Suva for the Pacific Islands Forum “unity” summit, has also confirmed that security personnel were monitoring the situation.
Across the nation, many people in the country have condemned the actions of the 21 men who are holding the four researchers hostage.
Republished from the PNG Post-Courier with permission.