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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pirates Attack in Malacca Strait

For the first time in a couple of years, a pirate attack in the Malacca Strait culminating in the kidnapping of crew members, as set out here:

Armed pirates attacked a Malaysian barge in the Malacca Strait and kidnapped two Indonesian crew, in the first high sea abduction in the busy waterway in more than two years, a global maritime watchdog said Tuesday.

The incident late Monday marked the third pirate attack in the strait this year, but the first since July 2005 in which ship crew were kidnapped, said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.

The barge was carrying steel billets from Malaysia's northern state of Penang to Belawan in Indonesia when it was raided by some 10 gun-toting pirates, Choong said.

They destroyed all communication equipment on board before fleeing with the ship master and chief engineer, both Indonesian, he said. Another six Indonesian crew were unharmed, he said, adding that the vessel is now in Belawan for investigation.
More here:
"There are no demands for ransom yet but we are concerned that this could be the start of a series of kidnap and ransom cases like what we see before July 2005," he said. "We hope the Indonesian authorities will take immediate action to contain this problem."

The strait is notorious for robberies and hijackings, but the number of attacks has fallen since Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, which share the waterway, launched coordinated maritime and air patrols in recent years to curb piracy.

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