Malaysian ship's crew ransomed from pirates

Malaysian ship's crew ransomed from pirates

Pirates released the captain and two crewmembers of a Malaysian-owned ship unharmed after the ship's owner paid ransom for the hostages.

The three Indonesians were aboard the M.T. Penrider, carrying 1,000 tons of fuel oil from Singapore to Penang, when it was attacked last Sunday in the Malacca Straits off Malaysia's Port Klang by gunmen armed with AK-47 and M-16 rifles.

The captain, and chief and assistant engineers, all Indonesian, were taken hostage while seven other crew - five Indonesians and two Myanmar nationals - were allowed to proceed to Penang with the ship.

The pirates had reportedly demanded $100,000 for the release of the three hostages. The pirates also seized $2,600 in cash, a cellular telephone, shipping documents and clothes from the crew, according to local media reports.

The hostages were released off an island in Indonesian waters after the ransom was paid through a middleman.

Police believe the attack could be the work of the Indonesian rebel Free Aceh Movement, which operates in Sumatra Island across the strait from Malaysia.

The International Maritime Bureau has warned seafarers to keep clear of Indonesia's war-torn Aceh coast on the strait after eight attacks on ships in the area in the past four months.

There have been 22 reported cases of pirate attacks this year in the Malacca Straits between Indonesia and Malaysia, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.