Armed pirates boarded and stole the fuel cargo of the Japanese tanker Naninwa Maru 1 on Wednesday in the Malacca Strait off the coast of West Malaysia. The cargo ship was bound for Myanmar with its cargo of around 5 million liters of diesel and the pirates were able to hijack and steal over half of the fuel, transferring them to two boats waiting at the scene of the crime. Three of the Japanese cargo ship’s crew members were also taken by the pirates, this according to Malaysian maritime police.
According to initial police data, six pirates chased down the tanker in a speedboat and boarded it around 1am local time, with the pirates most likely targeting the ship’s cargo to sell on the black market. The armed men pumped out around 3 million liters of diesel into two waiting vessels before leaving the boat and taking three crew members with them. According to a maritime police officer who refused to be identified, three Indonesian crew members were missing along with their passports and belongings. The Japanese tanker was headed for Myanmar, coming from Singapore. The crew of the ship was Indonesian, Thai, Burmese and Indian sailors.
The narrow channel of water is one of the world’s foremost shipping routes, with cargo ships passing through it carrying around a quarter of the world’s oil trade. Piracy – mainly targeting cargo and money that the ships carry – had been on the decline as the three countries who share the strait, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, decided to increase maritime patrols in the area. Pirate attacks seem to have increased in 2013, with most of the attacks last year happening in Malaysian and Indonesian waters.
[via The Guardian]