Probolinggo, East Java (ANTARA) - The government must not remain silent in dealing with the Papua armed criminal group (KKB) who took Susi Air pilot Captain Philip Mark Mehrtens hostage, according to Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD.

"If we have to eliminate them (KKB), it is very easy. However, protecting civil society is also the duty of the state. Therefore, we cannot be silent in dealing with the rebels," he noted after visiting the Nurul Jadid Paiton Islamic Boarding School in Probolinggo District, East Java, on Saturday.

Mahfud affirmed that the National Police (Polri) and Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) continue to prepare a strategy to release the Susi Air pilot held hostage by KKB in Nduga District, Highland Papua Province.

"We are facing two difficulties. First, the hostages are used as human shields or become the KKB's self-protection. When we move, they threaten to kill Captain Mehrtens. Meanwhile, we, as a civilized country, must be able to protect foreign citizens," he remarked.

Apart from using the New Zealand national pilot as a human shield, the criminal group also used women and children as a tool to protect themselves from the TNI and Polri, Mahfud said.

Hence, he urged all parties to be patient because currently, the government is preparing steps to ensure the security and safety of the hostage and local civil society.

Captain Mehrtens has been held hostage by the KKB since February 7, 2023, after landing his plane at the Paro airport, Nduga District, Highland Papua. Apart from taking him as hostage, the KKB also burned a Pilatus Porter aircraft owned by Susi Air.

During the rescue mission, four TNI personnel were killed. The bodies of the fallen soldiers were evacuated to Timika on April 19. Currently, the four bodies have been handed over to their respective families.

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Translator: Novi Husdinariyanto, Resinta S
Editor: Anton Santoso
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