Reports from Papua New Guinea say that 17 girls from a remote village have been held captive by a large group of armed men.
The National reported this, according to an eyewitness, and the story has been corroborated by a government worker from Komo Hulia.
The eyewitness said the men had been demanding $40,000 kina (NZ$18,000) with 10 pigs, for the release of the students to their families.
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The National subsequently reported today that 17 schoolgirls had been released after a ransom of 3300 kina and nine pigs had been paid.
But while deputy Police Commissioner (chief of operations) Philip Mitna confirmed the incident to the newspaper, he said he could not comment further as he had not yet received the full report from his divisional commander.
RNZ Pacific’s PNG correspondent Scott Waide said police had not responded to his requests for comment.
Waide has spoken to a local health worker but has been unable to verify the information.
Second Bosavi hostage drama
Hela Governor Philip Undialu said such occurrences were common in the Mt Bosavi area, where gun smuggling, and a lot of other criminal activities took place.
Local media reported police were preparing a rescue mission, but it was unclear when this was to have happened.
In February, the PNG government admitted that 100,000 kina had been paid to kidnappers to release three hostages, including a New Zealander, who were also taken captive in the Mt Bosavi area in Hela province.