A REPORTED 29 incidents of armed robbery against ships in Asia during the first quarter of 2020, has led to a call for greater vigilance from law enforcement agencies.

The report from ReCAAP ISC, entitled Piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia,documented 28 actual incidents and one attempted incident) were reported in Asia during January-March 2020 compared with 10 incidents (comprising nine actual incidents and one attempted incident) during January-March 2019.

This accounted for a three-fold increase.

Among the more disturbing incidents occurred in mid-January with the abduction of five crew members from a fishing vessel off Sabah, Malaysia, with the crew apparently still held in captivity.

According to ReCAAP, the increase of incidents during January-March 2020 occurred in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore Strait.

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“Of concern was the continued increase of incidents on board ships while underway in the Singapore Strait during January-March 2020,” the authors noted.

“Nine incidents were reported in the Singapore Strait during January-March 2020 compared to two incidents during the same period in 2019.”

There was improvement at the ports/anchorages in China, however, with no incident was reported in China during January-March 2020 compared with three incidents during January-March 2019.

There were also arrests of perpetrators off Gujarat in India, at Chittagong Anchorage in Bangladesh and in the Singapore Strait.

The report reiterated “the need for law enforcement agencies to enhance surveillance, increase patrols and respond promptly to incidents reported by ships in order to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators”.

“Ship masters and crew are strongly advised to exercise vigilance, maintain constant lookout for suspicious boats in the vicinity, report all incidents immediately to the nearest coastal state, and implement preventive measures recommended in the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.

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