ALOR SETAR: A Malaysian fishing vessel which was seized by gun-toting Thai pirates in the waters off Kedah last Saturday, was found anchored in Taratao Island, Thailand, three days ago.
Initial investigations by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) revealed the pirates, who had demanded ransom to secure the release of the RM1.5mil vessel, had abandoned the boat and disappeared.
MMEA (northern region) chief Tan Kok Kwee said the agency received a report on the missing Class C boat from the Kuala Kedah Fisheries Department on Aug 16 at 10.45am.
Following this, he said, the MMEA contacted the Satun-Langkawi Special Relations officer to seek the assistance of the Thai authorities.
“Less than 24 hours after that, the special relations officer confirmed that Thai marine police located the boat in Taratao Island about 11am Malaysian time,” he told a media conference here.
According to MMEA investigations, the pirates, believed to be from a neighbouring country seized the fishing boat on Aug 15 about 11.30pm, about 1.2 nautical miles off the Malaysian-Thailand border waters and about 40 nautical miles west of Langkawi.
“The fishing vessel carrying five Thai crew members was accessed by a group of between four and five foreign robbers wearing masks and brandishing two or three high-powered M-16 machine guns.
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Maritime Security News:
I don’t remember seeing anything from IMB or ReCAAP on this one. The ransom demand and use of M-16 assault rifles represents an interesting and dangerous change in tactics for pirates in the region. This makes it all the more surprising that there were no reports from agencies regarding this new gang. Let’s hope they don’t turn their attention to merchant traffic…