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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Pirate attacks in Malacca Strait
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Pirates in the Malacca Strait have attacked two UN-chartered ships and threatened a Japanese cargo carrier, a maritime watchdog has said.

The UN ships were set for Indonesia's Aceh province when they were attacked on Sunday, said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau.

The pirates stole some cash and construction materials belonging to the UN's World Food Programme.

The Japanese ship's crew repulsed an attack on Tuesday.

A crew member noticed an unlit speedboat approaching.

"They used high-pressure fire hoses and floodlights on the pirate's boat to scare them off, but the pirates, believed to be armed with guns, still chased them for about five minutes before vanishing," Mr Choong told Kyodo news agency.

No injuries were reported in the incidents, but they raised fears of a resurgence of piracy in the area.

"The attacks took place not far apart from each other. There is a possibility that they were carried out by the same pirates," Mr Choong told reporters on Tuesday.

"We hope the two attacks are isolated incidents and not a start of more attacks," he said.

The Malacca Strait has typically been one of the most pirate-infested sea lanes in the world - and it is also one of the busiest.

Three states bordering the waterway - Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore - have launched aggressive joint measures to try to cut piracy, including air and naval patrols.


What is your reaction to this story? Have you ever experienced a similar incident on the Malacca Straits?

Your comments:

When I was a young man on active service in the east, I was witness to the savagery of these brutes in the Malacca Straits. Our ship was attacked during a night raid by a great gang of them, wielding a variety of implements including guns, knives and chair legs.
Brigadier Charles Arthur-Strong, Tunbridge Wells, UK

I worked recently for an International NGO in Aceh...Piracy is known to be endemic in the Strait, lots of local Govt officials are involved..UN ships are an easy target asunlike most merchantmen, they carry no armed personnel. I am only suprised that this has not happened sooner !
Fraser, Kenya

As a former merchant seafarer I can remember being on a British LPG ship in the southern end of the Malacca Straits in 1985. At about 0700 we were attacked by a high speed launch with some unsavoury-looking characters aboard armed with machetes. We had been forewarned by the authorities and had rigged high pressure hoses all round the ship. Our crew drenched the attackers and they veered off.
John Palethorpe, Leeds England

Until merchant vessels that are scheduled to travel through this area are either escorted through it by naval ships, or allowed to bear arms to defend themselves, these attacks will continue. The misconception of pirates as the pegleg, eyepatch wearing character could not be further from the truth. The modern day pirates arrive on extremely fast launches, which are usually built of fibreglass and are so small that they do not appear on Radar. They are armed with automatic weapons and usually board vessels at night and from the stern.
Nigel Hampson, Burnley, Lancashire

I grew up in the Johor State (the most southern state of Malaysia) and had the unenviable opportunity of getting to know some of these pirates when I was a kid. The pirates I met are mainly of Indonesian descent - fishermen at daytime that turned pirates at night or during low season. Interestingly, they criss-crossed M'sia/Indonesia as though the border never existed and many of them had families and children in both countries too! Despite their fearsome reputation, they do like kids; I remember receiving gifts from them -small fishes, prawns, crabs etc.
ML, M'sia



SEE ALSO
Air patrols for Malacca Strait
13 Sep 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Growing threat of 'maritime muggers'
15 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Anti-piracy drive in Malacca Straits
20 Jul 04 |  Asia-Pacific
SE Asia acts on maritime security
29 Jun 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Pirates 'rule the high seas'
24 Jul 03 |  Business
Piracy terror attack warning
04 Feb 02 |  Asia-Pacific

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