New Zealand pilot held hostage by separatist fighters in Indonesia

(CNN)Separatist fighters in Indonesia's restive Papua region have captured a pilot from New Zealand and are holding him hostage after setting fire to his plane, the group said in a statement.

The pilot, identified by local police as Philip Merthens, was captured after landing a commercial charter flight at Paro Airport in the remote highlands of the Nduga regency on Tuesday.
Five passengers including a baby were on the Susi Air flight, but it remains unclear what has happened to them, Papua Police Chief Inspector Mathius Fakhiri told reporters on Tuesday.
    A search team made up of police and military personnel has been sent to the area.
      On Tuesday, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) said it had burned the plane in an airfield and "arrested" the pilot before taking him hostage.
      "He is our second hostage," TPNPB commander spokesperson Eganus Kogeya said in a statement seen by CNN, in what appeared to be a reference to an incident in 1996 when the Free Papua Movement held captive 26 members of a wildlife research mission in the neighboring district of Mapenduma. Some hostages were held for more than four months, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
      In the statement, Eganus also demanded that all incoming flights to Paro Airport be stopped and said the pilot would not be released until the Indonesian government acknowledged Papuan independence.
        The Indonesian government designates the TPNPB as a terrorist group.
        A Susi Air plane (not the one involved in the incident on Tuesday) in Papua province in 2011.