An Australian-based archaeologist and two Papua New Guineans have been released from captivity after being taken hostage by an armed group in a remote area of Papua New Guinea several days ago, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wing said on Sunday.
“I welcome the news from PNG that all the hostages have been released and will soon be reunited with their families.” Wong said on Twitter.
The academic, Bryce Barker, and the other hostages were allegedly held at gunpoint by 20 armed men, according to a local police report. Police did not say when the abduction occurred.
Barker is a New Zealand national based at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.
The archaeologist and his research team were carrying out fieldwork in the remote Southern Highlands province of the impoverished South Pacific island nation when they were taken hostage by the armed group.
Authorities in Papua New Guinea confirmed the release of a hostage on Friday. The last three hostages – the professor and two women from Papua New Guinea – have now been safely released.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said the last three hostages were secured “through covert operations” without paying the $993,000 ransom.
“For criminals, there is no profit in crime,” he wrote on Facebook.
Wong thanked the government of Papua New Guinea for its help in securing a safe and peaceful resolution.
“I also thank the Australian and New Zealand officials who helped support this result,” he said.