Da Usa Today del 04/07/2006
Originale su http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-07-04-pirate-attacks_x.htm

Pirates attack U.N. ships near Indonesia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Ś Pirates attacked two U.N.-chartered ships carrying construction materials off the Indonesian coast in the Strait of Malacca, a maritime watchdog said Tuesday, raising fears about a resurgence of piracy in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Both ships, flying Indonesian flags, were heading to Indonesia's Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra island when they were attacked Sunday night, said Noel Choong, chief of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.

He said no injuries were reported among the all-Indonesian crew aboard the two boats, which were transporting construction materials for the rebuilding of the tsunami-hit Aceh province. The ships had been chartered by the U.N. World Food Program.

"The attacks took place not far apart from each other. There is a possibility that they were carried out by the same pirates," Choong told The Associated Press. He did not know how many pirates were involved or what kind of boats they used.

The pirates stole and damaged equipment on the first ship and robbed the crew of cash and personal belongings on the other, he said.

The Strait of Malacca, a major waterway linking Asia with Europe and the Middle East, had been one of the most pirate-infested areas in the world, but attacks fell to an all-time low last year after increased naval patrolling by Indonesia and its neighbors.

"At the moment we don't know if these are isolated cases or the start of attacks again in the Malacca straits," Choong said. "We are still monitoring. But we urge ships to keep a strict piracy watch."

According to the IMB, there were no pirate attacks in the strait in the first three months of 2006, but Sunday's attack raised to five the number of incidents reported since April.

Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia officially began coordinated patrols in the 550-mile strait in July 2004 after prodding from Washington, which said terrorists could link up with pirates already established in the narrow waterway to blow up an oil tanker or use it as a floating bomb.

Each year, more than 50,000 ships carrying half the world's oil and a third of its commerce use the route bordered by Malaysia and Singapore on one side and Indonesia's Sumatra on the other.

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