The Papua New Guinean kidnappers release their hostages

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced Sunday that kidnappers in Papua New Guinea have freed a New Zealand archaeologist and two local university students who were taken hostage by local police on Monday.

“I welcome the news from Papua New Guinea that all hostages have been released and will soon be reunited with their families,” the Australian diplomat wrote on Twitter.

Archeology professor Bryce Parker and three local college students were kidnapped around February 20 by twenty gunmen in the uninhabited, mountainous central part of the island, according to a local police report, for which a more precise date was not given.

Authorities in Papua New Guinea also confirmed the release of a local university student on Friday.

As a New Zealander, Professor Parker is a professor at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) in Australia, in Toowoomba, 130 kilometers west of Brisbane on the coast.

The archaeologist and his local research team of three were conducting field work in the mountainous region of the Pacific island nation called the Southern Highlands when they were caught by armed roadblocks.

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape, confirmed that the three hostages had been released “as part of an intelligence operation” without paying the 3.5 million kina (358 million forints) ransom demanded by the kidnappers.

“Criminals have no profit in kidnapping,” the Papuan prime minister wrote on his Facebook page.

Penny Wong thanked the government of Papua New Guinea for its assistance in implementing the peace process that ensured the lives and physical safety of the hostages.

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“I am grateful to both the Australian and New Zealand officials who supported the process,” the Australian foreign minister added.


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