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16 March, 2005 - Published 12:16 GMT
Malaysia to act against pirates
Malaysia has promised to send more ships to the Straits of Malacca after pirates kidnapped several crewmen for ransom in a number of attacks this week. Malaysia has launched an air and sea search and rescue operation to find the missing sailors. This report from Jonathan Kent:
The lull in piracy in the Malacca Straits that followed the tsunami is over. On Monday at least ten pirates opened fire on a Japanese-flagged tug, the Idaten and boarded it. Eleven crew members made it safely to the Malaysian port of Penang, but two Japanese and a Filipino were seized by the attackers, probably for ransom. Two days earlier an Indonesian tanker, the Tri Samudra, fully laden with gas, was hijacked by more than thirty heavily armed men. The captain and first engineer are still missing.
The suspicion is that pirates from the tsunami-hit region of Aceh are operating once again. The authorities say they are sure that the kidnap victims were taken to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur attributes the earlier respite from attacks not just to the tsunami, but also to the presence of dozens of foreign naval vessels that came to help.
Around a third of the world's trade and half of its oil supplies pass through the straits, which are considered a hotspot for piracy. Much of the blame has been laid at Indonesia's door for failing to patrol its side of the channel properly.
Jonathan Kent, BBC, Kuala Lumpur
a hotspot for
much of the blame has been laid at Indonesia's door