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Second oil tanker hijacked off Malaysia in a month

Second oil tanker hijacked off Malaysia in a month

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) - An oil tanker has become the second such vessel to be hijacked in Malaysian waters in four weeks, the International Maritime Bureau said Friday, adding it marked rising piracy in the region.

A Panamanian-flagged vessel was on Thursday boarded by 10 armed pirates, who emptied it of the oil it was carrying into another ship before disembarking.

In early October a Thai-flagged oil tanker went missing for two days after a hijacking before being released without its cargo.

The IMB said there had been an increase in the number of attacks on Malaysia's coast recently but added it could not be sure if the two most recent attacks were by the same group.

"This is the third attack in two months, with the last two using the same modus operandi to steal the gas oil," said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre.

An earlier attack occurred in September when eight armed pirates boarded a supply ship and stole the ship's properties and personal belongings of the crew, he said.

Choong added that the centre had notified Malaysian maritime authorities that "attacks are going up and they should put a stop to it before it gets out of control".

Pirate attacks in the region, home to the Straits of Malacca, a key shipping route connecting east Asia with Europe and Africa, have dropped in recent years following stepped up patrols and co-operation with neighbouring countries to secure waterways.

But pirate attacks have surged this year, with the Southeast Asian region reporting the highest number of incidences (57) in the first half of 2013, according to the IMB.