Papua [Indonesia], April 18 (ANI): Separatist rebels in Indonesia's Papua region said that they have killed at least 13 Indonesian soldiers after the army troops were sent to search for captured New Zealand pilot, Phillip Mehrtens, who was taken hostage in February, CNN reported.
The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) according to CNN said its soldiers attacked two Indonesian military posts in the Yal and Mugi districts in Nduga Regency over the weekend.
The CCN said that according to a statement, rebels shot dead 13 Indonesian military and police officials in the Mugi district. One body had been evacuated by the Indonesian military, but rebels were still in possession of 12 bodies, the statement added, without providing proof.
Indonesia's military in a televised press conference on Sunday said one of their soldiers had been killed while combing the area near where pilot Mehrtens is believed to be held.
The military confirmed that some soldiers were missing but the weather had made it difficult to determine their whereabouts.
"We know the location of the pilot, the operation has been escalated but the weather condition in Papua is unpredictable," military spokesperson Julius Widjojono said, as quoted by CNN.
The rebels said nine Indonesian soldiers were executed on Sunday after being captured in the Yal district.
The rebels said the attack on the Yal military post was "revenge" for an Indonesian military operation in the area in late March when troops killed a pregnant woman and two rebel fighters.
As per the rebel group, they'd proposed peace negotiations with the New Zealand and Indonesian governments, but for two months their letters had been ignored.
They said New Zealand and the UN had an "obligation to urge the Indonesian Government to stop military operations" and said peace talks could be conducted under a "neutral third party, namely the UN organizational body."Mehrtens was captured in February after landing a commercial Susi Air charter flight at the remote Paro Airport in Nduga regency. (ANI)