Tanker at­tacked ‘ev­ery 2 weeks’: group

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Pi­rates attack one small coastal oil tanker ev­ery two weeks in the wa­ters off Southeast Asia, which re­mained the world's piracy hotspot in the first quar­ter, the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Bureau said Tues­day.

Southeast Asia saw 38 pirate at­tacks dur­ing Jan­uary-March or 70 per­cent of the global to­tal of 54, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est quar­terly re­port by the bureau's Kuala Lumpur­based Piracy Re­port­ing Cen­tre.

“The fre­quency of th­ese hi­jack­ings in Southeast Asia is an in­creas­ing cause for con­cern,” the IMB's direc­tor Pot­ten­gal Mukun­dan said in a state­ment, warn­ing that at­tacks could in­crease fur­ther if the prob­lem is not ad­dressed.

The 54 global in­ci­dents rep­re­sented a 10-per­cent in­crease over the first quar­ter of 2014, the re­port said.

There were 245 at­tacks for all of last year, the IMB had said ear­lier.

In­done­sian wa­ters re­mained the most piracy-prone, see­ing 21 at­tacks in the first quar­ter.

The re­port in­di­cated a con­tin­ued shift in the world piracy prob­lem over the past few years to­wards Southeast Asia, and away from the past hotspots of So­ma­lia and the Gulf of Aden.

The lat­ter two saw zero at­tacks in the first three months of the year as an in­ter­na­tional naval pa­trol off East Africa — launched in re­sponse to an ear­lier spike in vi­o­lent at­tacks by mostly So­mali-based pi­rates — con­tin­ued to bear fruit.

But the IMB said Southeast Asian hi­jack­ings were "oc­cur­ring at least ev­ery two weeks and be­com­ing an in­creas­ing and wor­ry­ing cause for con­cern."

“A num­ber of th­ese in­ci­dents have oc­curred in in­ter­na­tional wa­ters, and a ro­bust and co­or­di­nated re­gional re­sponse is re­quired or­der to counter th­ese threats,” added.

Most Southeast Asian at­tacks in­volved “armed gangs tar­get­ing small coastal tankers to steal their car­goes of fuel,” typ­i­cally by sy­phon­ing it to an­other wait­ing ves­sel.

Pi­rates took 140 sea­far­ers as hostages world­wide dur­ing the course of at­tacks in the quar­ter, com­pared to 46 dur­ing the same pe­riod in 2014.

Glob­ally, 13 crew mem­bers were as­saulted, three in­jured and one killed, the re­port said.

Southeast Asian piracy had been sign­f­i­cantly re­duced over the past decade by stepped-up re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and mar­itime pa­trols, but has re-emerged.

Much of the world's trade passes through the re­gion's ship­ping lanes such as the South China Sea and the Malacca Strait, which sep­a­rates Malaysia and In­done­sia. in it

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