Malaysian police: Pirates may be hiding in nearby foreign waters

A maritime police approaches the Japanese oil tanker which was raided by armed pirates at Port Klang.

PETALING JAYA - Police here are now looking for the possible hideouts of the pirates who raided the Japanese vessel Naniwa Maru I and escaped with three million litres of diesel.

"We have not rejected the possibility that the two vessels are berthed in nearby foreign waters inclu­ding Indonesia," said Federal Marine Police deputy commander Asst Comm Abdul Rahim Abdullah.

He said Bukit Aman would be solely responsible for investigating the case but would receive aid in the form of information and intelligence from their counterparts including Interpol, Aseanapol, Thai and Singa­porean police and coast guards.

"So far we have yet to establish contact with the victims or the Singaporean shipping agency.

"We will be working with SWASLA (Malaysian Sea Vessel Tracking System) to monitor ships that are under investigation," he said.

The international Traffic Separa­tion Scheme requires all water vessels to move slowly with a maximum speed of 13 nautical miles.

"The Naniwa Maru could only move between eight and 10 nautical miles in speed. This may have given the pirates enough time to board the ship," ACP Abdul Rahim said.

Federal Marine Police commander Senior Asst Comm Datuk Abdul Aziz Yusof said police would record statements from the crew members.

"We are not ruling out any possibility at the moment.

"We can confirm that all crew members are safe except for three Indonesians," he said yesterday.

"It is still too early (to say much) but our priority is to find the missing crew members," he said, adding that the ship had been anchored at North Port in Port Klang.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforce­ment Agency southern region en­­forcement chief Maritime First Ad­­miral Adon Shalan said the MMEA was working with other law enforcement departments to get to the bottom of the matter.

"The ship will remain anchored in Port Klang for investigation," he said.