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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 18:04 GMT
Indonesia 'piracy hotspot'
ship
Attacks on ships in South-East Asian waters are soaring
Indonesia remains the world's most piracy-prone country according to a quarterly survey of world maritime crime released on Wednesday.

According to the International Maritime Bureau's anti-piracy division, attacks on shipping has soared to a 10-year high, with turmoil in Indonesia making the Straits of Malacca more risky than ever for ships.

The reports says that nearly 300 worldwide pirate attacks were recorded from January to September, an increase of 63% on the same period last year.

More than half of the incidents took place in South-East Asian waters.

According to the Kuala Lumpur-based bureau, Indonesia, the world's fourth-most populous nation, suffered 90 attacks in its waters alone this year.

That figure is up from 66 in 1999, and 31 in 1998.

Indonesian upheaval

The Straits of Malacca - a renowned piracy hotspot which enjoyed an unusually attack-free year in 1999 - has had at least 32 reports of attacks on shipping so far this year.

The rise in attacks accompanies upheaval in the sprawling nation of 13,000 islands since former President Suharto was ousted amid a mounting economic crisis in 1998.

According to the bureau pirates in the area are able to easily evade detection by taking refuge in numerous island hide-outs.

In the most recent attack to hit the region, about 15 pirates hijacked a Malaysian tanker in the South China Sea, held its crew captive, beat up the captain and siphoned off 2,500 tons of fuel.

In its report the bureau also warned that Bangladesh, Ecuador, India and the southern tip of the Red Sea were witnessing "a sudden rise" in piracy.

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See also:

08 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Asia mulls piracy measures
28 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
China executes pirates
03 Feb 99 | Asia-Pacific
'China letting pirates go free'
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