Separatists in Papua released a video of a captured New Zealand pilot

The most recent video shows Philip Mehrtens fighting alongside TPNPB members

A New Zealand pilot who was taken hostage seven days ago is seen in video footage released by separatist fighters in Indonesia's Papua province.

After bringing his aircraft to a stop in the isolated mountain province of Nduga in Papua, Philip Mehrtens was abducted.

Seven members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) surrounded Mr. Mehrtens in the video that was sent to the BBC's Indonesian service.

They promised to free the pilot in exchange for the independence of Papua.

Papua, a former colony of the Netherlands, declared its independence in 1961, but Indonesia seized power two years later. Ever since the resource-rich region was formally placed under Jakarta's control in a UN-monitored vote in 1969, it has been embroiled in a conflict for independence.

Assault rifles, bows, and arrows, and other weapons were used by the fighters in the videos. Egianus Kogoya, the leader of the TPNPB, identified himself to the camera and outlined the group's demands.

The man's identity cannot be independently confirmed by the BBC.

In the video, Mr. Mehrtens, who was dressed in a blue denim jacket, hat, and long khaki pants, appeared to read a prepared statement that reiterated the rebels' demands.

After his small passenger aircraft, owned by Indonesia's Susi Air, landed in Nduga, the 37-year-old was abducted.

Early on Tuesday morning, his plane left the Mozes Kilangin airport in Central Papua with the intention of returning a few hours later after dropping off five passengers.

However, soon after the single-engine aircraft touched down, rebels stormed it and kidnapped the Christchurch native. Later, a TPNPB spokesman told BBC Indonesian that Mr. Mehrtens had been relocated to the group's stronghold district in a remote area and would be used as "leverage" in political negotiations.

The group claims that the pilot is detained as a result of New Zealand's military partnership with Indonesia.

Native Papuans who made up the other passengers were let go.

In the past, Papuan rebels seeking independence from Indonesia have threatened and even attacked planes they thought were transporting personnel and supplies for Jakarta.

Indigenous Papuans frequently engage in conflict with Indonesian authorities, and since 2018, pro-independence fighters have increased the frequency of their assaults.

Papua and West Papua are the two provinces that make up the area. It is distinct from Papua New Guinea, which Australia granted independence to in 1975.

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