If they asked for firearms, it would be impossible. We don't have firearms.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Papuan armed separatist group that has taken Susi Air pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens hostage has not established any communication with the airline so far, a Susi Air attorney informed here on Wednesday.

"The group did not try or never made any communication with the company. There has been no communication between us until now," Donal Fariz said.

The airline has not received any information regarding the ransom demanded by the group led by Egianus Kogoya for the release of the New Zealander pilot who has been in captivity for 22 days now, he added.

According to Fariz, the company has only obtained information on the whereabouts and the condition of the pilot from media reports.

"They communicate by sending photos and videos to our fellow journalists. So, I got the pictures from the media, not from them," he added.

The Nduga district administration, he said, has sent representatives to establish communication with the armed group.

"It is a one-way (communication). We are waiting for information from the team in the field, they screen the information, then share it with us," he expounded.

Fariz said that the airline’s representatives met with New Zealand Ambassador Kevin Jeffrey Burnett recently to exchange information.

"They have more or less the same information as we have," he said.

Responding to reports that the armed group has demanded a sum of money as ransom, Fariz said that the company does not have any information regarding this.

"We do not know how much and how they collect the ransom. It would be impossible to ask for money from Susi Air while our plane was burned. The plane itself is worth US$2 million," he added.

Susi Air has handed over the case to the government and the authorities will negotiate with the kidnappers to release the pilot.

"We let the government handle this. If they asked for firearms, it would be impossible. We don't have firearms," he said.

Earlier on February 23, 2023, the Kogoya-led armed group demanded firearms and ammunition as ransom for the release of the Susi Air pilot.

"It is true that Egianus Kogoya has demanded some ransom, among others, firearms and ammunition, for the release of the New Zealander pilot Philip Mark Merthens," Papua Police chief, Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri, said in Timika.

The request was impossible to fulfill because it was considered dangerous, disturbing security and risking casualties, he said.

Merthens, Susi Air's Pilatus Porter pilot, was taken hostage by the Papuan armed group on February 7 after the group burned down the airplane he was piloting at Paro airport in Nduga district, Papua Pegunungan province.

Related news: Captured New Zealand pilot not part of separatist group: Susi Air
Related news: Negotiations underway to free Susi Air pilot from Kogoya group

Translator: Melasusa S Khalida, Sri Haryati
Editor: Anton Santoso
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