News Indonesia to set up joint patrols with Philippines, Malaysia to tackle piracy

Indonesia plans to establish military cooperation with the Philippines and Malaysia to address the rising threat of piracy, the government has said. 

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the military cooperation would take the form of concrete action such as conducting joint patrols in the waters where pirates usually operated.

"The way to prevent more kidnappings is by guarding sea traffic and holding joint patrols between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines," Kalla said on Sunday as quoted by tempo.co.

Kalla added that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was aware of the initiative and had given it his approval before he left on a state visit to the EU.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan said Jokowi had personally asked him to prepare for the cooperation with Kuala Lumpur and Manila, as he saw the protection of trade in the area as a top priority.

"I am scared that the area will become like the Somalian waters," Luhut said, referring to the area in which hijackings and kidnapping for ransom is relatively common.

The initiative was made following two recent incidents in the region.

Two Indonesian-flagged vessels, the Brahma 12 tugboat, and the Anand 12 barge were hijacked and 10 Indonesian sailors were taken hostage in the southern Philippines on March 26.

Two more Indonesian-flagged ships were hijacked on Friday in waters between in waters between the Philippines and Malaysia. One sailor was shot, five escaped, and four were taken hostage.  

According to Luhut, the government is still investigating the most recent case to ascertain whether they Abu Sayyaf group was also responsible for the second incident, or whether it was one of its splinter organizations. (dan)

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