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Old 15-03-2005, 11:01   #1
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Security in the Starights of Malacca

Malaysia to boost Malacca Strait security
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) Thu Mar 10, 2005
Malaysia said it will boost security in the busy Malacca Strait with a 24-hour radar system to guard against attacks by terrorists and pirates.

"We want to increase our sensor capabilities especially at night, using radar to conduct surveillance on traffic that goes through the strait," Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also defence minister, was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency.

"We want to make sure that in the future, our capabilities in maritime enforcement is on par with international standards, to ensure the safety of the users of the strait."

The 960-kilometre (600 miles) waterway bordered by Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia is used by some 50,000 ships a year carrying a third of world trade and half its oil supplies.

The three nations last year began coordinated patrols in the strait, which is one of the world's top piracy blackspots. Asian and Western security forces fear terrorists could hijack a tanker to use as a floating bomb in a maritime version of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Najib, who is currently on an official visit to Britain, said a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency would be operational by the end of the year to improve security in the strait.

The government has allocated 286 million ringgit (75 million dollars) to set up the agency which would focus on strengthening enforcement to curb terrorist and pirate attacks, illegal immigration, environmental damage and improve search and rescue operations in the area, he said.

Since late 2003, there had been a steady increase in attacks and kidnappings in the strait and along the coast of Aceh, where a separatist revolt is being waged.

Four mariners were killed in pirate attacks in the strait last year, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Pirates captured three in Malacca Straits
TOKYO, March 14 (UPI)
Two Japanese men and one Filipino were captured Monday during an attack by pirates on a tugboat in Malaysian territorial waters.

"The government will do its utmost for their safe and early release," Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Japanese government has set up a task force to deal with the situation and has asked Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore for assistance, reported the Kyodo news agency.

The Japanese coast guard said the Japanese-registered tugboat is named Idaten and was pulling the barge Kuroshio 1 when attacked by pirates.

The coast guard identified the kidnapped Japanese nationals as Capt. Nobuo Inoue and Chief Engineer Shunji Kuroda.

Indonesia hunts pirates in Malacca Strait
JAKARTA, March 15 (UPI)
Indonesia sent three navy warships Tuesday on a hunt for pirates that captured three crew members of a Japanese-registered tugboat in the Malacca Straits.

First Admiral Abdul Malik Yusuf, spokesman for the Indonesian navy, said a gang of armed pirates attacked the Idaten tugboat Monday night near Penang Island, off Malaysia.

"We're cooperating with the Malaysian and Singaporean navies in chasing them," Yusuf said.

The three kidnapped crew members were identified as two Japanese nationals -- the captain and chief engineer -- and a Filipino engineer. The tugboat's remaining 11 crewmen, as well as more than 150 workers of various nationalities aboard a barge that it was pulling, were safe.

Malaysian authorities believe the pirates took the three captured men to Indonesia.

In a separate pirate incident, at least 35 gunmen stormed the MT Tri Samudra late Saturday while it was ferrying a full load of methane gas from Kalimantan province on Borneo island to Belawan on Sumatra island, the International Maritime Bureau said.

The bureau recorded 37 pirate attacks in the 885-kilometer-long Malacca Strait last year, up from 28 in 2003. Most attacks involved vessels being fired on and crew kidnapped for ransom.

Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have launched naval patrols to guard the trade waterway in recent years.
Gord May
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