Crime & Justice

Papua New Guinea hostages freed

Bangkok, Feb 26 (EFE).- An Australian-university academic and two colleagues kidnapped by a criminal gang in Papua New Guinea have been released, PNG’s prime minister reported on Sunday.

The professor, a New Zealand national who lives in Australia, was captured along with three other members of his research team in the central Highlands by a group of some 20 armed men who demanded a ransom of 3.5 million kina (about $970,000).

On Thursday, the group freed one of the hostages and, after a week of tense negotiations, which included operations by security forces and involvement of the three governments, the other three captives were released “successfully,” said PNG Prime Minister James Marape.

“We apologize to the families of those taken as hostages for ransom, it took us a while but the last three has been successfully returned through covert operations with no K3.5m paid,” Marape said in a post on Facebook.

In announcing the release of the hostages, the president also thanked the police and security forces, as well as local leaders, missionaries and the community for their help, although he did not provide further details about the circumstances in which the rescue took place.

“For criminals, there is no profit in crime. We thank God that life was protected,” he added.

Papua New Guinea, which gained independence from Australia in 1975, is an impoverished country with a low education rate, despite the large amount of mineral and hydrocarbon resources on its territory. EFE


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