Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - A joint team of Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) and National Police (Polri) personnel arrested a member of a Papuan separatist group (KKB) who burned down a Susi Air plane in Paro, Nduga district, Highlands Papua.

The member has been identified as Yomce Lokbere.

Head of the law enforcement task force of the Damai Cartenz Operation, Senior Commissioner I.G.G. Era Adhinata, informed that Lokbere was arrested in Batas Batu, Nduga district, on April 5, 2023.

The results of a police investigation revealed that Lokbere was tasked with finding and collecting logistics, including firearms and ammunition, he noted.

"Currently, investigators are continuing to investigate him," he said in Timika on Monday.

Based on current data, Lokbere had been involved in a number of armed crimes in Nduga district since 2021, he added.

They included the burning of the Dolarossa camp and the exchange of gunfire with the Yonif Raider 700 Task Force in the Mapenduma area.

On June 7, 2022, he was allegedly involved in the shooting down of a SAM AIR PK-SMG aircraft at the Kenyam airfield.

In 2023, he was involved in threatening 15 health service construction workers in Paro on February 5 and burning a Susi Air plane and taking the pilot hostage in Paro district on February 7.

Adhinata informed that the TNI and Polri are still trying to determine the whereabouts of the pilot, Captain Philip Mark Merthens, a New Zealand national.

Earlier, the head of the Damai Cartenz Operation, Senior Commissioner Faizal Rahmadani, said that his party had extended the search for Captain Merthens to Yahukimo and Puncak districts.

Several efforts have been carried out to rescue the pilot, including involving a negotiating team comprising Nduga district community leaders who have been deployed by the acting head of Nduga district, he informed. However, the negotiation has not yielded any results.

"(The leader of KKB) Egianus Kogoya and several of his members were detected in Koyawage, Lanny Jaya district, but when TNI-Polri officers arrived, he and his members were nowhere to be seen and allegedly returned to Nduga," he disclosed.

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Translator: Evarukdijati, Resinta S
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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