Kidnapped Australian helicopter pilot, subcontractors set free in PNG

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PNG security forces deployed in the Mount Sisa helicopter crew kidnapping incident
PNG security forces deployed in the Mount Sisa helicopter crew kidnapping incident. Image: PNG police/PNG Post-Courier

PNG Post-Courier

A kidnapped Australian pilot of a Hevilift helicopter and two Papua New Guinean subcontractors have been released without harm following a rapid deployment of security forces.

Security forces were mobilised and deployed in the Mt Sisa, a remote area near the border of Hela and Southern Highlands, in large numbers this afternoon in response to the hostage-for-ransom attack.

The kidnappers were warned through local leaders that the security forces would use lethal force to free the captives.

This latest daring attack for ransom took place a year on from the infamous kidnap and ransom demand at Mt Bosavi.

Tribal warriors from Mt Sisa, just north of Mt Bosavi, took control of a Hevilift helicopter and its expatriate crew at 9am yesterday morning.

The kidnappers demanded a substantial amount of money for the release of the Australian pilot and his crew.

In a statement tonight, Police Commissioner David Manning said the helicopter had been flown to Hides in the Southern Highlands with the pilot and sub-contractors onboard.

Security forces tracking kidnappers
Security forces were now tracking the kidnappers so they would face justice.

“If these criminals resist or show any hostility towards police, other security personnel or any member of the public, their fates will be sealed,” he said.

The unidentified helicopter pilot and two contract workers
The unidentified helicopter pilot and two contract workers taken captive . . . freed after their ordeal. Image: PNG Post-Courier

“Our country has had enough of these domestic terrorists who are undermining the safety and security of our communities, and they have no place walking free.

“These criminals will be caught, or they will be killed in the process.

The pilot and technicians had been taken captive at a remote site in the vicinity of Mt Sisa, Tari.

It was understood the issue motivating the group was over a compensation claim, and demands were being communicated by the group.

Released safely
The pilot with the two workers and the helicopter were released safely after the kidnappers heard that members of the PNG Defence Force and men from Mobile Squad 07,SMG HQ, and Mobile Squad 20 had been deployed in the Mt Sisa area.

“We have learned a lot from previous situations of a similar nature in this area, and landowners, leaders and village auxiliary police from the local area worked together with police command to resolve the situation,” Commissioner Manning said.

“I congratulate security forces personnel who worked together with local leaders and auxillary police to bring this situation to a successful and swift conclusion.

“As information comes to hand on the hunt for the abductors this will be released for public distribution,” the commissioner’s statement added.

Republished from the PNG Post-Courier with permission.

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