After Chase, Malaysia Holds Indonesian Pirates

KUALA LUMPUR ~ Malaysian marine commandos arrested seven suspected Indonesian pirates after a dramatic high-seas chase in the Malacca Strait early this week, a top police official said.

The pirates were captured after a 40-minute, pre-dawn pursuit on Monday in which they lobbed explosives at the commandos and tried to ram their boat. One suspect was shot in the hip by the marines, who were armed with M16 assault rifles.

Isa Munir, commander of the police’s marine operation force, said the pirates in a powerful eight-meter boat had tried to board a cargo ship under the cover of darkness.

“The ship’s captain fired a red flare to deter the pirates. At that point, the pirates spotted our assault boat. They aborted their attack and sped off in the direction of Indonesia,” he said.

Isa said the six-man commando team gave chase in an assault boat, opening fire after the pirates hurled explosives at them.

“The pirates also rammed the police boat during their attempted get away. They dumped their face masks, ropes and the ladder into the sea so that there will not be any evidence,” he said.

Isa added that the injured man was in hospital while the six others, aged between 21 and 53, were being held in a police station in the southern state of Johor.

He said the men, who spoke with Indonesian accents, may be charged with “attempted robbery.”

Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, immediately hailed the successful operation.

“We are pleased with the swift action by the police,” he said adding such effective action will deter other pirates.

“We hope the three littoral states will beef up patrols in view of the global recession that has began to spread to Asia,” he added.

More than 30 percent of world trade and half the world’s oil shipments pass through the Malacca Strait, which are shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Piracy in the strait has declined in recent years but there are concerns the effects of the global financial crisis could lead to a rise in incidents.

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