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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nine Hostages Freed in Raid Of New Guinea Rebel Camp

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Soldiers raided a rebel hideout in the New Guinea jungle Wednesday, freeing six European and three Indonesian hostages after more than four months of captivity, military spokesmen said.


Rebels escaped with two hostages, Lt. Col. Maulud Hidayat said from New Guinea. The Red Cross failed to negotiate freedom for the hostages, including a woman who is seven months pregnant.


About 50 soldiers exchanged gunfire with the rebels after tracking them down by finding sleeping bags and other belongings, Hidayat said.


The hostages were part of a scientific research team abducted Jan. 8 from a remote valley by guerrillas of the Free Papua Movement, which wants independence for the Indonesian-ruled half of New Guinea.


The rescued hostages included all of the Europeans in the group: Britons Daniel Start, 21; William Oates, 21; Annette van der Kolk, 21, and Anna McIvor, 20; Dutchwoman Martha Klein and Dutchman Mark Van Der Wal.


The rebels had abducted a total of 26 people, but soon released a German scientist and 14 others.


?In Jammu, India, police are trying to confirm a report Wednesday that Kashmiri rebels had killed an American and three other hostages they captured last July 4.


A police officer said a middleman carrying messages between Muslim militants and the government reported that the Al-Faran rebels killed and buried the hostages. A spokesman for the British Foreign Office in London said diplomats were investigating the report.


The rebel group kidnapped six Western tourists trekking through mountains south of Srinagar, seat of the movement seeking an independent Jammu-Kashmir state.


One hostage, John Childs of Simsbury, Connecticut, escaped within days. Rebels decapitated a second hostage, Hans Christian Ostro of Norway. The remaining hostages include Donald Hutchings, 42, of Spokane, Washington; Keith Mangan, 33, of Middlesbrough, England; Paul Wells, 23, of London; and Dirk Hasert, 26, of Erfurt, Germany.