KUALA LUMPUR (TIP): Malaysia is hunting for a group of machete-wielding pirates who hijacked a tanker off its eastern coast, stealing a million litres of oil, in the latest in a spate of attacks in its waters, an official said on June 13. Pirates hijacked the Malaysia-registered tanker MT Budi Mesra Dua last Saturday off Bintulu in the oil-rich Sarawak state as the ship sailed from neighbouring Singapore.
“Ten machete-wielding pirates boarded the ship, which was carrying about a million litres of diesel. They took control of the tanker for about 10 hours,” Mohamad Sufi Mohamad Ramli, a local commander with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency told AFP. The armed pirates siphoned off the diesel fuel to another ship, robbed the crew of their valuables and destroyed communication equipment before escaping, he said.
“We have activated 24-hour sea patrols around Bintulu waters (in the South China Sea) to prevent similar attacks,” Mohamad Sufi said.”We are hunting down the pirates,” he added. Pirates have attacked a number of vessels in waters off Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia recently. In April, pirates injured the captain and stole diesel fuel from a Thailand-owned tanker off the eastern coast of Malaysia. In the same month, three Indonesian crew were kidnapped and diesel fuel stolen from a Singaporemanaged tanker in the Strait of Malacca, an important shipping lane.