New wave of piracy hits smaller ships
Ian Stewart in Kuala Lumpur
PIRACY is on the rise again in Southeast Asia.
The Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau reported recently that pirate attacks on ships in the region had doubled last year, compared with 1993.
This year the pirates seem to be targeting smaller vessels and less sophisticated cargoes and using a variety of ruses to get on board.
Their haul in the past two months has been thousands of dollars worth of such items as paint, liquor, cigarettes and engine parts.
Ships have been stopped and raided by pirates posing as fishermen and maritime officials.
Maritime authorities in Kuala Lumpur said pirates impersonating Indonesian coast guards intercepted a Taiwan-bound cargo ship, Kaftu Maru, in Indonesian waters last month, overpowered the crew and escaped with cartons of cigarettes worth several thousand dollars.
Last week, in the South China Sea, armed and masked pirates stormed on board the Lucky Trader, a cargo ship sailing off the coast of Vietnam, handcuffed the crew and took control for 12 hours while they transferred cartons of cigarettes and other booty to another vessel.
Since January 1, 13 cases of piracy have been reported to the International Maritime Bureau compared with a handful in the same period last year.
Malaysian maritime sources said delays in the reporting of attacks had allowed most pirates to escape.