Monday, March 21, 2005

Pirates Free 2 Kidnapped Sailors

Pirates yesterday released two Indonesians they seized days before off the island of Borneo, but the fate of Japanese sailors in a separate attack was still unknown, a navy spokesman said. Brigadier General Malik Yusuf told The Associated Press that the hostages - the captain and ship engineer of KM. Tri Samudra - were released at Paning River in Indonesian Borneo, known as Kalimantan. Earlier, Yusuf mistakenly reported the release of two sailors kidnapped Monday when pirates attacked the Idaten, a Japanese-registered tugboat, in the Malacca Strait, a busy shipping lane between peninsula Malaysia and Indonesia's Sumatra island. "Those who were released today were two Indonesians from an Indonesian KM Tri Samudra taken hostage by other hijackers in Indonesia's Kalimantan (Borneo) Island," Yusuf said. "What happened in Penang was the capture of five hijackers - four Filipinos and one Malaysian - of Idaten, while the whereabouts of the hostages were still not known," he added. He did not provide further details of the hijacking of the Indonesian ship. "I have to apologize for the mistake that happened because we received news about the incidents almost at the same time," he told the Associated Press. In Monday's incident, about 15 armed pirates attacked the Japanese tugboat off Penang island. The vessel owners had said they had not been contacted by the pirates or received ransom demands. Malaysia authorities had earlier said they believe the pirates were Indonesian and had taken the hostages back into Indonesian waters after kidnapping them.

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