An active duty Army soldier has been arrested for piracy in the busy Strait of Malacca, in another blow to the already tarnished image of the Indonesian Military (TNI).
First Adm. Halim Hermanto said the low-ranking soldier was arrested on Monday along with four civilians in the waters off Aceh province.
The five suspects kidnapped the crews of two commercial ships 10 days ago and were demanding a ransom for their release, said Halim, the chief of the Belawan Naval Base in Medan.
When the naval base in Medan learned of the kidnapping, plainclothes Navy personnel arranged a meeting with a representative of the pirates, saying they were prepared to pay the ransom.
During the meeting at a location in Langkat regency, North Sumatra, the Navy detained the representative and interrogated him. During questioning, the man told interrogators the kidnapped crew members were being held on a ship sailing in the waters off Aceh Tamiang.
Scores of Navy personnel descended on the ship, were they arrested the four civilians and one Army soldier, who has been identified as Sur, who is with a battalion stationed in Aceh. They also confiscated one pistol and 17 bullets, and released the hostages unharmed.
"They (the pirates) are old players. They have been operating around Aceh Tamiang and in the Strait of Malacca for a few years, extorting fishermen and kidnapping crew members from ships for ransom," said Halim.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006