Papua New Guinea kidnappers release last 3 hostages
Canberra, Australia –
An Australian-based archaeologist and two Papua New Guinean nationals have been released after being taken hostage by armed groups in a remote area of Papua New Guinea days ago, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said on Sunday.
“We welcome news from PNG that all hostages have been released and will soon be reunited with their families.” Wong on Twitter.
A local police report said academic Bryce Barker and other hostages were held at gunpoint by 20 armed men. Police did not say when the kidnapping took place.
Barker is a New Zealand national based at the University of South Queensland, Australia.
An archaeologist and his investigators were taken hostage by armed men while conducting fieldwork in the Southern Highlands, a poor island nation in the South Pacific.
Papua New Guinea authorities confirmed the release of one hostage on Friday. The final three hostages – the professor and two women from Papua New Guinea – were safely released.
Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape said the last three hostages were taken “through covert operations” without paying a ransom of 3.5 million kina ($993,000).
“For criminals, crime is of no benefit,” he wrote on Facebook.
Wong thanked the Papua New Guinea government for its assistance in ensuring a safe and peaceful resolution.
“I would also like to thank the Australian and New Zealand officials who have supported this outcome,” she said.