A Vietnamese official says eight Indonesians apprehended last week have confessed to hijacking a Malaysian oil tanker.
The pirates, who were been described as “part-timers on a maiden voyage” by navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar, fled the tanker Thursday night after they were located by the Malaysian navy in Vietnamese waters. One crew member, an Indonesian cook, was shot in the leg before the hijackers fled. The other 22 crew members were unharmed.
The hijackers had reportedly earlier offered to return the vessel and crew to authorities unharmed if they were allowed to leave unhindered. The made their escape after their offer was denied.
Col. Doan Bao Quyet, political commissar of Vietnam Coast Guard region 4 based in the southern province of Kien Giang, said Monday that the Indonesians initially said they encountered an accident at sea while fishing when they arrived in Tho Chu island off Vietnam’s southern coast on Friday.
But after questioning with the images and information provided by Malaysian authorities, they confessed that they were responsible for the hijacking of the oil tanker earlier this month.
The tanker MT Orkim Harmony carrying 7.5 million liters of gasoline worth 21 million ringgit ($5.7 million) on its way to Kuantan in Malaysia when communications were lost with it on June 11.
The vessel had been repainted and its name changed from Orkim Harmony to Kim Harmon to avoid detection.
The hijacking incident is the fifth incident reported this year in Malaysian waters. In many cases, hijacked vessels are later found in remote coastal areas after their cargo has been offloaded.
Additional reporting form Associated Press