BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Dangerous waters
Cargo ship
Attacks on cargo ships cost insurers $100m a year
The region around the Malaysian island of Sipadan contains some of the world's most beautiful and exotic tropical locations.

Like Sipadan - itself a world-renowned diving spot described by diver Jacques Cousteau as an "untouched piece of art" - many of the region's other islands are home to fine white sands, clear waters and a variety of tropical fish and coral reefs.

But while the region as a whole has generally been safe for tourists, parts of it are considered off-limits.

Island rebels

Various armed rebel groups in parts of the southern Philippines have kept tourists away from many locations in the thousands of islands that make up the nearby Sulu Archipelago.


Island
Beautiful locations but dangerous too
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is said to have about 12,000 fighters, has been continuing 20 years of armed insurgency around Mindanao.

The US Embassy recently advised Americans to avoid travelling to Basilan island, 900km (600 miles) south of Manila, the base for Abu Sayyaf, the guerrilla organisation linked with the Sipadan hostage-taking.

There have also been sparks of violence in neighbouring Indonesia. Communal violence erupted last year in Ambon, the main island in the Moluccas. Trouble has also flared up sporadically elsewhere in Indonesia, which contains thousands of islands.

Piracy

Yet it is not just tourists who are at risk - piracy in the South China Sea makes the waters one of the most dangerous in the world.

Approximately one-third of the world's commercial shipping passes through the region annually and about half of last year's 285 attacks recorded worldwide by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) occurred here.

Indonesia and Malaysia are among the worst-hit nations.

Some coastal towns in Malaysia's Sabah state, the scene of Sunday's tourist kidnappings, have been regularly targeted by armed Filipino gangs.

In September 1998, a group of armed pirates killed a fisherman in Bohayan Island in Sabah, took his boat and robbed other fishermen.

A gun-battle followed with pursuing police but the pirates escaped into international waters.

Border patrol co-operation to stem piracy has been a key feature of recent bilateral talks between Malaysia and the Philippines.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Asia-Pacific Contents

Country profiles
See also:

22 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese pirates sentenced to death
03 Feb 99 | Asia-Pacific
'China letting pirates go free'
03 Feb 99 | Asia-Pacific
South East Asia: piracy hot-spot
08 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Asia mulls piracy measures
24 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Gunmen seize tourists in Malaysia
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories