Efforts intensify to rescue Susi Air pilot held by TPNPB in isolated area

Susi Air
Head of Operation Peace Cartenz 2023, Kombes Faizal Ramadhani - Jubi/Alexander Lone

Jayapura, Jubi – According to the leader of the Cartenz Peace Operation, Sr. Comr. Faizal Ramadhani, the area where pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens was held captive by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) was extremely remote. This posed the biggest challenge for the search team tasked with rescuing the Susi Air pilot.

Due to the isolated terrain, Ramadhani said his team required specific facilities to support the search and rescue mission. “We reached an area situated at an altitude of over 3,000 meters above sea level. There were still remnants of a campfire but the TPNPB group had already left,” he said.

The rescue operation for Philip Mark Mehrtens was conducted by the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Police forces. The hostage-taking event occurred in Nduga Regency on February 7, 2023, when Mehrtens landed a plane at Paro Airstrip. The TPNPB troops led by Egianus Kogoya also set fire to the plane afterwards.

Ramadhani mentioned that Kogoya’s group frequently changed their locations. “The group’s movements are unpredictable, often taking place in highland areas but sometimes they venture down to lowlands, and sometimes they disperse,” he explained.

However, Ramadhani emphasized that his team would persist in their efforts to locate and rescue Philip Mark Mehrtens. “We are committed to continuing our rescue mission for the Susi Air pilot,” he said in Jayapura City on Thursday, June 15, 2023.

When asked about the situation of the Nogolait community, who had sought refuge in Kenyam, the capital of Nduga Regency, he said the displaced residents had returned to Nogolait.

“Nogolait is actually not far from Kenyam, so there is no need to establish a security post there,” he said. (*)

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