Singapore: Tanker hijacks in southeast Asia during 2014 have made it the world’s most active region for piracy and armed robbery incidents, the International Maritime Bureau says in its end-of-year figures.
Despite global piracy at sea being at its lowest level for eight years, hijackings worldwide rose to 21 during 2014, up from 12 incidents the year before. Eleven of the hijacks last year were committed in southeast Asian waters.
“Most of the 124 attacks in the region were aimed at low-level theft from vessels using guns and long knives,” the Bureau said in a statement. Pirate hotspots include the waters around Pulau Bintan, Indonesia, and the South China Sea.
It is possible that attacks in the region could also be become more violent, the IMB said, citing the death of one crewmember shot on a bitumen tanker in December.
“The global increase in hijackings is due to a rise in attacks against coastal tankers in South East Asia,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB, which is part of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). “Gangs of armed thieves have attacked small tankers in the region for their cargoes, many looking specifically for marine diesel and gas oil to steal and then sell.”
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, the Indonesian authorities and other regional coastal states’ maritime forces have played a key role in responding to these attacks, IMB said.
Elsewhere in Asia, Bangladesh reported 21 incidents in 2014, up from 12 in 2013. Seventeen anchored and three vessels underway were boarded and one attempted attack on a vessel. Most incidents were low-level thefts from vessels, IMB said. [14/01/15]