Indonesian Ports Halt Coal Shipments to Philippines amid Piracy Fears

Indonesia is restricting shipping of coal to its neighboring Philippines following a rise in hijackings of its ships by Filipino pirate groups linked to Islamist extremists.

The ports of Banjarmasin and Tarakan in Indonesia’s Kalimantan have stopped approving shipping permits to the Philippines, Reuters reports, citing a government official, amid fears of more attacks and kidnappings.

The measure might be adopted by other ports and it is yet not clear how will the Philippines’ coal needs be affected by the decision as Indonesia supplies 70 percent of the country’s coal import needs.

At least fourteen people are reported to have been kidnapped over the recent period by the Filipino pirates while transporting coal to the country.

At the end of March an Indonesian crew of ten people were kidnapped when a tug and a barge were hijacked in the Philippines, followed by four more a couple of days after that.

The crews are being held for ransom by a group identified as the Islamic extremists, the Abu Sayyaf.

Based on the latest reports, the owner of the hijacked tugboat Brahma 12 has agreed to pay a ransom in the amount of IDR 14.3 billion (USD 1 million) for the ten kidnapped crew members, according to the Indonesia’s newspaper Jakarta Globe.

Reacting to the surge in pirate activity in the region, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia are planning to conduct a joint naval patrol at the countries’sea borders so as to prevent the situation from escalating further.

World Maritime News Staff

 

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