By Stefan Armbuster
Indonesia’s military confirms one soldier was killed and more are unaccounted for after clashes with the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB-OPM) rebels holding New Zealand pilot Philip Mehrtens hostage.
The West Papuans claim at least six soldiers were killed and a number taken prisoner during the Indonesian military’s rescue operation to find the civilian pilot for Susi Air captured on February 7.
An escalation of Indonesian actions has been flagged, with West Papuans claiming there were retaliatory helicopter airstrikes.
- READ MORE: West Papuan rebels claim 9 soldiers killed in Jakarta bid to free NZ pilot
- Why Indonesia fails to address the West Papua conflict
- Other West Papua reports
The New Zealand government says it is seeking a “peaceful resolution” and Mehrten’s “safe release”.
Stefan Armbuster is the Brisbane and Pacific correspondent of SBS World News. Republished with permission.