A Japanese tanker has been attacked by armed pirates off the Indonesian island of Mangkai, the latest in a spate of incidents in a South China Sea shipping lane, a global maritime watchdog said Monday.
Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre, said the Japanese-owned chemical tanker was travelling from Singapore to China when it was targeted off Mangkai.
“The 3am attack on Sunday saw the pirates board the tanker and rob the 23 crew on board before the pirates escaped,” he said, adding that it was the 27th incident in the region since February.
“We have informed the Indonesian authorities and we have also alerted ships in the area to mount anti-piracy watches as these pirates normally abort attacks once they are spotted.”
Mangkai island lies on a busy sea passage running along the east coast of the Malaysian peninsula. It is a major route for ships heading between East Asian nations and the Pacific Ocean.
Choong said there was growing concern over piracy in the area, with the IMB receiving reports of 10 attacks in the past 20 days.
“There is a need for more patrols in these waters as the attacks have increased, he said, adding that the IMB has issued a warning that one or more pirate groups are operating in the area, armed with guns and machetes.