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Hostages released after PNG Government paid ransom to kidnappers

 The Papua New Guinea Government  has paid part of a K3.5 million kina ransom demanded by kidnappers in Southern Highlands for the safe release of a foreign archaeologist and his two research counterpart today (Sunday 26th/02/23). 

This was confirmed by Prime Minister James Marape when, the trio arrived in Port Moresby after 4.30pm this afternoon. 

hostages arrive at Port Moresby's Jacksons Airport 

They were accompanied by Police Commissioner David Manning to Port Moresby, in a Tropic Air Plane following their release.

Mr Marape who met them at the airport confirmed to the media, the State paid some monies but did not disclose, the exact amount. 

"They were released nothing close to a K3.5 million kina as demanded or requested was paid. We've reached a critical stage in the operation were we could not delay any more, they had to come out alive. Engagement was possible, security and lives of the three were at risk, first things first we had to secure them out alive,"  Marape said.

The  New Zealand archaeologist Professor Bryce Barker and his research colleagues were  taken hostage by armed men at Fogamiyu in the Mt Bosavi area in Southern Highlands Province on the 12th of February, 2023.

They had released a female hostage two days earlier. 

Marape thanked the members of police ,defense , local leaders and communities for their assistance in the safe release of the hostages.

The prime minister further says, phase one of the process is completed and a combined PNG Defense Force and Police investigations are continuing.

He says, "No stones will be left unturned," ...  and they will ensure all those involved are arrested and charged accordingly and face the full force of the law.

Meantime, the New Zealand High Commissioner to PNG Philip Taula has commended the government and those involved in the safe release of the three hostages. 

"Today we want to express our deep appreciation to the prime minister, Commissioner Manning and the government of PNG for its leadership in ensuring the safe release of the hostages.  Today Its a big relief for the hostages themselves, for their families in PNG, New Zealand and in Australia. We are very pleased to work with PNG who took the lead and with the Australia as well in ensuring their safe release," Taula said. 

NBC News/ PNG Today

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