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MISC tanker crew under watchful eyes of at least ten armed pirates

JOHOR BARU, 8 Sept 2008: A crew of the MISC tanker Bunga Melati Lima, seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on 29 Aug, said they were watched by at least ten armed pirates all the time.
Rizal Shah Abdul Jabar, 30, told his 50-year-old mother Fuziah Salleh this in a short telephone conversation on 4 Sept.

"Rizal told me at least ten armed pirates take turns to keep a close watch on them. He urged that negotiations to free the crew be speeded up as food supply was running low," she told Bernama at her home here today.

Fuziah said Rizal was one of four Bunga Melati Lima crew allowed by the pirates to communicate with family members.

The vessel’s 42-member crew comprised 34 Malaysians, seven Filipinos and one Pakistani. They were detained after pirates seized the tanker off Somalia.

Another MISC tanker, Bunga Melati Dua, was seized by pirates on 19 Aug. It had a crew of 39 comprising 29 Malaysians, nine Filipinos and one Pakistani.

Fuziah said Rizal told her that the pirates also seized all mobile phones and laptop computers from the crew.

The mother of four said she had been looking forward to the coming Aidilfitri as Rizal would be celebrating with the family for the first time in his six years with MISC.

A bachelor, Rizal joined MISC in March 2002 soon after graduating from the Malaysian Maritime Academy.

His father, Abdul Jabar Abdul Hadi, said he was against a military operation to free the crew as it would jeopardise their safety.

The government has dispatched three naval vessels with a crack commando squad to the Gulf of Aden aimed at protecting Malaysian vessels plying the route.

The naval vessels dispatched were the frigate KD Lekiu, new generation patrol craft KD Pahang and the KD Sri Inderapura as back-up. – Bernama

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