Malaysia: No need for outside help in Malacca Strait despite piracy rise

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) Malaysia does not want help from outside the region in patrolling one of the world's most strategic waterways the Strait of Malacca a government minister said Friday, despite a recent rise in pirate attacks there. Officials are "quite happy" with security in the state, a trade and oil shipping lane between peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia's Sumatra island, said Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar. "The cooperation between the various countries that share the straits has been very good," Syed Hamid told reporters. "I don't think there should be any intervention from outside parties." The minister was commenting on an International Maritime Bureau report that 37 pirate attacks occurred in the waterway last year, up from 28 in 2003. The United States and Singapore have warned that the strait could also be vulnerable to a terrorist attack. Last March, Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, said an American plan to heighten security in the waterway might require a detachment of elite U.S. troops to be stationed nearby. Malaysia and Indonesia, both predominantly Muslim, rejected the U.S. plan. But it was embraced by Singapore, a strong U.S. ally in the region. Most of the pirate attacks have involved vessels being fired on and crew kidnapped for ransom. Thirty-six seafarers were abducted in the strait last year, while four were killed and three injured. The pirates struck despite Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore launching coordinated naval patrols in the 900-kilometer (550-mile) route, used by 50,000 ships each year. Associated Press

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