Australian professor and local researchers are being held hostage in Papua New Guinea

In Papua New Guinea, a river flows through isolated highlands

In Papua New Guinea (PNG), several researchers, including academics from the country and an Australian professor, have been held hostage at gunpoint.

According to media reports, the group was on a study trip when it was kidnapped by armed men in the far-off highlands.

Officials report that a ransom has been demanded for their release.

According to James Marape, the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, authorities are in contact with the abductors and hope to have the hostages released "alive and safe.".

Some of the local guides were reportedly released after being held captive along with a larger group at first.

Although it is unclear how many people are still being detained, Australian news organizations estimate that there are four or five. They consist of PNG academics, students, and an archaeologist from an Australian university.

According to Mr. Marape, the Australian who provided the group's survival confirmation had spoken to PNG authorities.

Police and the military were on standby to help, he claimed, and there were "running conversations" between authorities and the kidnappers.

However, he added, "in the beginning, we want those criminals to release those who are being held in captivity.".

"There are no safe havens or places to hide. ".

Mr. Marape did not specify the exact time the group was taken, only that it had been kept "under wraps due to the sensitivity.".

He nevertheless made an effort to reassure the hostage-takers' families, saying: "I'm confident, optimistic, and praying that we get them out. ".

There have been no comments from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In the nearby Indonesian province of Papua, separatist fighters kidnapped a New Zealand pilot earlier this month.

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