Rescue efforts for researchers held hostage are underway in Papua New Guinea

Grassland and mountains in Papua New Guinea

An operation to free an Australian professor and three local researchers held hostage by an armed group in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is currently underway.

In order to free the group, security forces would employ "any means necessary," including lethal force, according to police chief David Manning.

On an unspecified date, the team was being captured while on a field research trip in the isolated highlands.

Local authorities claim that a ransom has been demanded for their release.

A larger group was initially abducted, though some local guides have since been released, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The professor, an Australian university archaeologist, and three PNG university students are the four people still held hostage.

Overnight, according to the police chief, the kidnappers were "opportunists" who "obviously had not thought this situation through.".

We are providing the kidnappers with a way out, he said.

The criminal justice system will treat them fairly if they release their hostages, but if they refuse to do so or resist arrest, it could result in their deaths. ".

The PNG Prime Minister James Marape sought to reassure the hostage families on Monday by claiming that authorities had been in "running conversations" with the abductors.

He declared, "I'm confident, optimistic, and prayerful 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. According to the group, Philip Mehrtens will remain in custody until the demands for Papua's independence are satisfied.

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