JAKARTA - The waters off Indonesia's Pulau Nipah, some 10km south of Tuas and north-west of Batam, have seen a spike in attacks on ships, prompting maritime watchdogs to warn vessels to be extra vigilant when anchored in the area.
The Singapore-based information sharing centre of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), in its latest report out this month, highlighted seven incidents involving tankers anchored at Nipah Anchorage in the first nine months of this year.
Earlier this month, another four attacks took place on ships anchored at Nipah and nearby Karimun Anchorage, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said.
All but one occurred between 2am and 5.30am and involved groups of four to six robbers.
There has been a steep decline in piracy and armed robbery on ships passing through the Strait of Malacca and Strait of Singapore in recent years, partly as a result of coordinated patrols by littoral states.
But these latest robberies have sparked concern that pirates are resurfacing in waters off Indonesia and could pose a greater threat if not checked.
"These attacks are not like those off Somalia, they are more low-level and localised," said Mr Noel Choong, head of IMB's piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.
"But for a seafarer, it does not matter what a pirate is looking for as the seafarer may be injured or killed," he noted.