Militants in Indonesia’s Papua region threatened to shoot a New Zealand pilot they held hostage in February if independence talks did not begin.

The request comes in a new video released by the group on Friday, showing the emaciated Philip Mehrtens holding the banned Morning Star flag – a symbol of Papua’s independence.

Surrounded by Papuan fighters brandishing guns, Mehrtens said they wanted other countries to be involved in talks over the region’s bid for independence from Indonesia.

He said: If this does not happen within two months, they say to shoot me.

The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta did not comment on the video.

Indonesian authorities have previously said they are trying to negotiate the pilot’s release, but have had difficulty gaining access to the part of the country where he is being held.

West Papua Liberation Army fighters Mr. Merhtens is captured after he lands a commercial plane in the mountainous region of Nduga.

He was helping to evacuate 15 construction workers who had been threatened with death while building a health center in the remote area.

A man, Philip Mehrtens, the New Zealand pilot who is reportedly being held hostage by a pro-independence group, stands among separatist fighters in Indonesia's Papua region.
Philip Mertens was taken hostage in February. Pic: AP

Rebel spokesman Sippy Sambom said the passengers were released because they were Papuans.

But Merhtens, who is from Christchurch and works for Indonesia’s Susi Air, was made redundant.

Separatists in Papua — a resource-poor and resource-rich region in the far east of the country that shares a border with Papua New Guinea — often think of outsiders as government spies.

Papua became part of Indonesia in a controversial vote in 1969 and insurgency has occurred ever since, with frequent violence between indigenous people and security forces.

In recent years, the militants have been able to get better weapons, which has increased the number of clashes.

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