Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Security heating up in Southeast Asia sea lanes

Reports from Malaysia - Navy to test missile and the Philippines - Philippines says plans to tighten southern border- point out the ongoing security challenges and improvements in the vital sea lanes off those countries.

The Philippines initiative is pretty broad:
The Philippines plans to force all vessels to use designated sea lanes along the borders with Malaysia and Indonesia to deny Islamic militants easy access to its restive Muslim areas, the defence secretary said on Monday.

Avelino Cruz said the Australian government was also helping Manila establish a coastal watch system in the southern Philippines to improve border controls around its 7,100 islands.

"Our Philippine Navy and Coast Guard ships would board and inspect all vessels and watercraft that would be passing outside a delineated maritime route," Cruz told a briefing for foreign journalists.

"We would be putting up a system to monitor all ships in the area."

At more than 36,000 km (22,300 miles) long, the Philippine coastline is seen as a weak link in the Asian war on terror with militants exploiting a multitude of private inlets and the navy's lack of equipment to evade capture.

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