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M’sia yet to receive report on tug boat seizure

PUTRAJAYA, 17 Dec 2008: The National Security Council has confirmed the pirate hijack of a Malaysian tug boat off Yemen yesterday and is now awaiting the latest development on the incident.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the council had not received any report on the hijack and was worried over the fate of the crew.

He said Malaysia had reported the hijack to the United Nations and pressed the need for drastic measures to be taken against Somali pirates in the Aden Bay.

“The council is expecting a report either tonight or tomorrow morning,” he told reporters after attending the ministry’s Excellent Service Awards here today.

AFP reported that pirates had hijacked a Malaysian tug boat and a Turkish cargo ship yesterday, and attacked three other vessels in the Gulf of Aden in the past week.

The tug boat with a crew of 11 was heading to Malaysia from West Asia.

In three other incidents last week, Somali pirates attempted to hijack a Singapore tanker, an Italian cargo ship and a Greek ship.

Meanwhile, Rais described the United Nations Security Council resolution to combat piracy as “powerless”.

“Merely announcing it is of no use, it must be followed up with physical force,” he said.

In LUMUT, Acting Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) chief Vice-Admiral Datuk Mohammed Noordin Ali said that next February, the RMN would cease ongoing ‘Ops Fajar’ operations to protect the country’s commercial vessels from pirate threats in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.

He said the decision was also agreed upon by Army chief Gen Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal.

Mohammed Noordin said any decision to resume operations would depend on the prime minister, defence minister and the National Security Council.

He said the decision to stop the operations was mainly due to its exorbitant costs and RMN’s obligation to protect the sovereignty of the national waters.

Mohammed Noordin said this after receiving RMN vessel ‘KD Mahawangsa’ which had returned from Ops Fajar at the RMN Lumut base today.

Another RMN vessel, ‘KD Indera Sakti’, is expected to conclude the operation in February.

‘Ops Fajar’ was launched after Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC) vessel MT Bunga Melati Dua was hijacked by Somalian pirates in the Gulf of Aden while heading to Rotterdam from Dumai, Indonesia on 19 Aug.

Ten days later, another MISC vessel, MT Bunga Melati Lima, with 36 crewmen, was also hijacked while crossing the same waters. — Bernama


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