Australian academic taken as hostage in Papua New Guinea

Australian academic taken hostage in Papua New Guinea highlands/Shutterstock Images

A professor of archaeology from an Australian university has been taken hostage at gunpoint in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, the country’s prime minister has confirmed.

The Australian academic along with several other researchers and Papua New Guinean students were on a field trip when they were taken hostage, according to Reuters. It is believed a ransom has been demanded.

Papua New Guinean Prime Minister James Marape said on Monday that police and military were on standby and the PNG government was working with missionaries who are acting as mediators. “We want those criminals to release those who are held in captivity,” he said in comments broadcast on ABC Television.

“There is no place to run, there is no place to hide,” Marape added.  He sought to reassure families of the hostages, saying: “I’m confident, I’m optimistic, I’m prayerful that we get… them out.” Mr Marape did not say when the group was taken and said the situation had been kept “under close wraps because of the sensitivity”.

Mr Marape says authorities are in touch with the kidnappers and hope to have the hostages released soon, “alive and safe.”

The Australian government has not yet responded to requests for comment.

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