Papua New Guinea police warn 'lethal force' may be used to rescue Australian professor and three locals taken hostage
A delicate operation is underway in Papua New Guinea to rescue an Australian professor and three locals abducted at gunpoint.
Papua New Guinea police are prepared to use “lethal force” to rescue an Australian university professor and three researchers taken hostage on Sunday.
The special operation was launched on Monday after a group of armed men reportedly took the four people captive at gunpoint in the remote highlands of the country.
The group have made a ransom demand for the release of the hostages, which police believe they stumbled upon by chance.
Police Commissioner David Manning said his team would take action against the “opportunist” gunmen and return the hostages to safety.
"Our specialised security force personnel will use whatever means necessary against the criminals, up to and including the use of lethal force, in order to provide for the safety and security of the people being held," Mr Manning said.
He also reiterated that the abductors were being given options for a way out, but failure to comply could “cost these criminals their lives”.
The archeologist from Australia was in the remote area of Fogoma'iu in the Mount Bosavi region with local researchers and a project manager from the capital of Port Moresby.
The identity of the individuals has not been publicly released due to the sensitivity of the situation.
Shadow home affairs minister Simon Birmingham said Australia’s consulate officers were working “hand in glove” with the PNG government to assist in securing the hostages safety.
“This would be terribly distressing for the families of those affected individuals and our thoughts are clearly with them,” he told Sky News Australia on Tuesday morning.
“We have some of the best consulate officers in the world… working hand in glove with the government of Papua New Guinea to make sure we assist them to secure the safe and swift release of these individuals.
“It's not in Australia’s interest to hand over ransom. It is also rarely in our interest to talk about the negotiations.”
PNG Prime Minister James Marape confirmed he did not “encourage ransom” on Monday and Police were working carefully because “life is at stake”.
The difficult situation comes only a week after a New Zealand pilot was taken hostage over the border in west Papua by Separatist rebels advocating for PNG’s independence.
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