Piracy rampant in Indonesia waters

Piracy rampant in Indonesia waters

Indonesia should boost efforts to secure its sea territory to prevent a rise in piracy and armed robbery cases, says a report.

The International Chamber of Commerce's (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) issued a first quarter report on piracy and armed robbery in Indonesia, revealing that from January until March 2015, the number of attacks at sea had increased to 21 from 18 cases in the same period of last year.

During the three months, criminals hijacked two vessels and boarded 19 vessels using knives, guns and machetes.

Vietnam and Nigeria had six and seven attacks, respectively.

The incidents in Indonesia also account for almost 40 per cent of 54 cases worldwide in 2015.

Besides Indonesia, countries in Southeast Asia also experienced an increase of attacks in the same period. For Instance, Malaysia had three attacks this year, while none occurred in its waters in the two previous years.

"The frequency of these hijackings in Southeast Asia has raised more concerns. There's a risk that the attacks and violence could increase if left unabated," said IMB director Pottengal Mukundan in the report.

The IMB is a special division of the ICC that was established in 1981 to act as a focal point in the fight against all types of maritime crimes and malpractices.

Although the number of incidents in Indonesian territory has been on the rise, most of the attacks were carried out by armed gangs targeting small coastal tankers to steal fuel cargo. These kinds of vessels usually move very slowly, allowing the hijackers to dispose of the oil.

The report also says that patrols should be increased in areas vulnerable to maritime crime, such as Belawan in North Sumatra, Muara Berau in East Kalimantan, Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, as well as the Karimun and Bintan islands.

In February, for instance, seven individuals armed with sharp weapons boarded a ship that anchored in Muara Berau waters. After the ship's crew members sounded the alarm, the assailants fled.

In January 2015, eight armed pirates hijacked Indonesian tanker MT Rehobot on Lembeh Island, North Sulawesi. All crew members were set adrift in a life raft. The police arrested two suspects and found the tanker stranded near Davao, Philippines.

The Indonesian Maritime Security Board (Bakamla), meanwhile, is questioning the IMB.

"We received information on the attacks but the number of cases is lower than the report reveals," Bakamla information division head Col. Edi Fernandi told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

However, Bakamla did not provide specific data on how many cases were recorded by the institution.

Many ships pass through Indonesian waters carrying cargo, ranging from crude oil to finished products, from all over the world every year.

Indonesian waters are very important as it contains critical sea lanes of communication for seaborne trade, naval movement and other maritime interests.

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