Southeast Asia Replaces Africa as the World’s Hotbed of Piracy
Sembara Oktafian was in the engine room of a tugboat chugging toward the Philippines when something didn’t sound right.
There was shouting on deck, and shots. Gunmen had boarded, and their message was clear: Come with us, or we will kill you. They shot one crew member and kidnapped four others.
“They were a terrible-looking group, running around with AK-47s,” Mr. Sembara said. “I thought they were going to kill us all, but they only took my friends.”
The April attack, in the Celebes Sea south of the Philippines, was not isolated, or even out of the ordinary. Southeast Asia now accounts for the majority of seafaring attacks globally, surpassing the Horn of Africa, according to the International Maritime Bureau. And governments in the region are scrambling to combat the problem.
“In Somalia, the attacks have gone down,” said Noel Choong, the head of the maritime bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. “In Nigeria, the numbers are still there, but not as much as in Asia.”
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