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South-east Asian pirates on the prowl once again

Published on Jun 18, 2014 1:29 PM

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - A spate of daring high-seas attacks off South-east Asia is stoking fears that its vital shipping lanes could once again become a hotspot for piracy unless regional powers act fast.

For centuries, pirates were the scourge of the Malacca Strait - the strategic channel between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore through which a third of global trade now passes.

They were largely put out of business about five years ago by stepped-up patrols. But several tankers or cargo ships have been attacked in South-east Asian waters since April, with pirates hijacking the vessels before siphoning off hundreds of tonnes of valuable fuel or oil.

The increasing booty of oil and other cargo floating through local seaways appears to be drawing in new players, possibly underpinned by organised criminal syndicates, according to anti-piracy experts.

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