Oil tanker hijackers said to be captured off Vietnam waters

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Vietnam on Friday said it had captured the pirates who hijacked Malaysian-flagged tanker oil tanker MT Orkim Harmony in the South China Sea, The Star reported.

Navy chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar confirmed that eight Indonesians have been detained in its waters near Thổ Chu Island, but said his men were verifying if they were the hijackers of the Malaysian tanker.

"They were found near Tho Chu Island at about 6.30am. They were on a life raft and claimed they were from a fishing boat that sank. "We are checking their story and investigation is still going on," Abdul Aziz said.

The eight pirates reportedly fled in the rescue boat at 8.30pm Thursday.

Before that, they had directed the Navy to move its ships about five nautical miles (nine kilometres) from the MT Orkim Harmony.

"They said if we did not move away they would harm the crew. So we turned our ships around and moved, and while we did that they lowered the boat and fled.

"We did not suspect that they would do that," Mr Abdul Aziz told The Star.

Earlier Friday, Abdul Aziz said the 22 crew members of the MT Orkim Harmony were unscathed. An Indonesian crew member, however, was being treated for a gunshot wound.

The ship, with a cargo of about 6,000 tonnes of petrol worth an estimated 21 million ringgit (S$7.6 million), went missing June 11 while on its way from Malacca to Kuantan Port in Pahang.

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