PETALING JAYA: The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) believes an oil smuggling syndicate is behind the hijacking of vessels carrying ship fuel and oil in the area.
ReCAAP, the first regional government-to-government agreement to enhance cooperation against piracy and armed robbery in Asia, said in its latest update that vessels were hijacked when it was dark and taken from shore to siphon off the fuel cargo.
The hijacking of MT Joaquim was the third in the Strait of Malacca this year, following two other cases on March 2 and Feb 15.
ReCAAP urged the authorities to step up surveillance and patrols in the strait and captains to exercise enhanced vigilance while sailing in the vicinity.
Before the hijacking of MT Joaquim, there were already 12 other attacks on vessels in South-East Asian waters, including six Malaysian registered tankers, since the beginning of the year.
The number is alarming compared with last year’s total of 15 reported hijacked ships, eight of which were carrying cargo of fuel.
Most hijackings involve small groups of armed pirates, moving in smaller and faster boats which they use to quickly overtake and overwhelm the crew of targeted vessels.