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The Government Continues to Try to Free Pilot Susi Air and Eradicate KST

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By : Rebecca Marian )*

The Terrorist Separatist Group (KST) is still holding Susi Air pilots hostage, this of course has not made the government remain silent and continue to try to deal with the rebels.

Mahfud MD as the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs (Menkopolhukam) emphatically said that the government’s stance would not be silent in the face of KST threats. In this case it was KST Papua who took hostage Susi Air Pilot Philip Mark Mehtrens and shot a TNI soldier to death.

         He emphasized that the TNI and Polri are continuing to prepare a strategy to release the Susi Air pilot who was taken hostage by an armed criminal group in Nduga Regency, Papua Mountains.

         Mahfud explained that there were actually two difficulties. First, the hostages are used as human shields or as KST’s self-protection. When the TNI-Polri moved, they (KST) threatened to kill hostages, while his party as civilized citizens must of course be able to protect foreign citizens.

         Apart from taking the New Zealand pilot as hostage, the criminal group also used women and children as shields to protect themselves from the movements of the TNI and Polri.

         Mahfud asked all parties to be patient because currently the government is preparing steps to ensure the security and safety of hostages and local civil society.

         Philip Mark Merthens has been held hostage by the KKB since February 7 2023. Philip was held hostage by KST after landing his plane at the Paro airport, Nduga Regency, Papua Mountains. In addition to holding Philip hostage, the KKB also bought a Pilatus Porter aircraft owned by Susi Air.

         The TNI also gave a warning to KST to immediately hand over hostage pilot Susi Air Capt Philips Mark Merthens. They were also asked to remove their weapons so that there would be no more shootings.

         Kapuspen Headquarters TNI Rear Admiral, Julius Widjojono appealed to the public not to be instigated by propaganda from KST. To immediately separate themselves and evacuate to a safe area.

         Because, based on the results of the operation in Nduga which was upgraded to combat alert, the KST had been successfully pinned down by the TNI.

         The Susi Air pilot search operation is still being carried out with an escalation of combat alert. His party could no longer trust KST, KST was the one who attacked first and they were currently in a pinch.

         Julius explained, the reason the KST had started to get squeezed was because it was suspected that several KST personnel had died during a shootout in the Mugi District, Nduga, Papua Mountains.     

         The reason the two KST parties had started to get squeezed was because of the evacuation process for Private F who was lifted from a 140 meter deep ravine. There is no longer any potential attack by KST. The rescue team can evacuate at that depth, they must have been attacked if conditions were not safe.

Private F himself died when he joined the Yonif R 321/GT Task Force, which consisted of 36 personnel. However, while on the way to the operating point. Suddenly 36 personnel were attacked from all directions by the KST mob which resulted in 5 soldiers becoming victims.

         Private F had jumped into the ravine (escape), to avoid being shot from KST. Private First Class F’s body was found by the Joint Team when conducting a search and trace after the shooting incident by KST during a search mission for Pilot Susi Air. Furthermore, Pratu F’s body was immediately evacuated to Timika, then taken to the Hospital for the repatriation of the body.

         Previously, the TNI had also deployed organic troops in the operation to free Susi Air pilot Philip Mark Merthens. The deployment of organic Soldiers was carried out due to the consideration of the size of the area and geographical conditions.

         Colonel Kav Herman Taryaman as Head of Information for Kodam (Kapendam) XVII/Cenderawasih said the deployment of organic soldiers was carried out due to consideration of the vast area and geographical conditions. Herman revealed that the number of TNI soldiers deployed to assist the Police in this operation was normative or as needed.

The liberation operation still prioritizes persuasive methods by involving the government and community leaders.

         Previously, TNI Commander Admiral Yudo Margono said that community leaders and the Acting Regent of Nduga asked the TNI-Polri officers to be patient. Yudo also said that the TNI would avoid military operations in an effort to free the New Zealand pilot.

         Meanwhile, the former Navy Staff (KSAL) and Pankogabwilhan I also confirmed that there was no deadline for the operation to free the New Zealand pilot.

         His party will make persuasive efforts, so there is no target for how many days the operation will be completed, because the target is the release of the hostages safely and no community members will become victims.

         Eradicating KST requires measured actions, because the duty of the security guard is not only to eradicate KST, but also to provide a sense of security to all people living in Papua.

)* The author is a Papuan student living in Jakarta 

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