HOSTAGE RESCUE MISSION IN PNG TOOK TWO DAYS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 31, 1999 - Radio Australia)---Eleven Indonesian hostages held captive by the Free Papua Movement rebels in PNG's Sandaun Province, were rescued after the planned release of the hostages failed.

The uninjured hostages, seven women and four men, have returned to the Irian Jayan capital, Jayapura.

Superintendent Robert Palma, from the PNG police force says details of the two-day operation are sketchy, but no injuries were reported:

"We don't know what traumas they went through, whether physical or mental, so we cannot give details until the doctors have examined them and then we'll know how they are.

"But the good thing is they are all alive. Let's hope it was so much of a successful mission that there were no injuries inflicted and that's what we think how it came out because we have not received reports of any injuries as yet."

The Organization of the Papua Merdeka has been fighting for an independent Melanesian state of West Papua since 1964, when the former Dutch West New Guinea became part of Indonesia.

The United Nations recognized Indonesian sovereignty in 1969.

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