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An Indonesian human rights researcher has condemned the Papuan rebels who have taken a New Zealand pilot hostage and gone into hiding in a remote mountainous region.

Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch urged the rebels to release the pilot, named as Captain Philip Mehrtens of the Indonesian airline Susi Air.

“It is a crime to kidnap anyone,” he told RNZ Checkpoint.

Diplomatic efforts were underway today to try to secure the release of Captain Mehrtens.

He was the sole pilot when his Susi Air plane with five passengers was captured by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) rebels who torched the aircraft after it landed at Paro airstrip near Nduga yesterday.

The rebels, fighting for independence in the Melanesian region of Papua, say that his life is at stake, and dependent on negotiations with Jakarta.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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