Susi Air
Illustration of Susi Air small planes that connect underserved areas. Courtesy of

West Papua liberation army, TPNPB, denies taking a Susi Air pilot, passengers hostage


West Papua No. 1 News Portal | Jubi


Jayapura, Jubi – The command headquarters of West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) denied their involvement in an incident in which an armed group reportedly held hostage to a Susi Air pilot and three passengers in Wangbe airport in Puncak Regency in Papua province.


The spokesperson of TPNPB, Sebby Sambom, told Jubi on Monday that he received an audio communication, in which a TPNPB military commander, Murib, explained to someone, in Lanny language, that he did not know anything about any flight that had been held at a gunpoint.



Sambom said he also communicated with Goliat Tabuni, TPNPB’s highest commander, and operation commander, Lekagak Talenggen. “Murib, Lekagak Telenggen, General Goliath Tabuni, all said they had yet to receive any reports [that TPNPB was involved in the incident]” he said.


Sambom accused the Indonesian Military of engineering the narrative .


Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (2): Civilians become victims of TNI-TPNPB war


“From the narrative in the media, it was clear that the armed group took the pilot hostage and demanded village funds. From such a sentence, it was clear, it was TNI or the police propaganda,” Sambom said.


Since last year, media reports in Indonesia have published several statements from TNI, the National Police, or local officials accusing TPNPB of robbing “village funds”. Village funds is an annual allocation of Rp 1 billion for each village from the government, mandated by a law.


The spokesperson of TNI’s United Defense Area Command (Kogabwilhan) III, Col. IGN Suriastawa issued a press release, saying that TPNPB took a Susi Air pilot and three passengers hostage at the airport. The information came from the testimony of the pilot, Capt. Ian John Terrence Hellyer, a New Zealand citizen.


Hellyer said he and three Papuan passengers was held by about 30 armed people in Wangbe at 6:20 am local time. The three native Papuan passengers were Ricky Dolame, Arikala Dolame, and Arike Wandikbo.


The hostage situation ended after the passengers and the armed group negotiated their release. At 8:36 am local time, the plane flew back to Moses Kilangin Airport in Timika ini Mimika Regency. The pilot and the three passengers were all safe.


Reporter: Benny Mawel

Editor: Dewi Wulandari

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