Pirate attacks still haunt fishermen
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Sea piracy targeting traditional fishermen has reportedly been on the rise, causing fear among fishermen who are often taken hostage by armed pirates in the Malacca Strait, North Sumatra, says the leader of a fishermen’s group.
This week, four fishermen from Langkat regency were abducted by armed pirates in the area, while the previous week three fishermen from Belawan were the victims.
The latest three hostages are Ramlan, 43, the skipper of the KM Alam Bahari; Sahar, 37, the skipper of the KM Lestari Indah; and M. Khaidir, 34, an engine operator on the KM Lestari Indah.
The fate of the seven fishermen remains unclear.
Indonesian Fishermen Association (HNSI) Medan chapter head Zulfahcri Sagian said his group had yet to receive any reports on the condition of the abducted fishermen.
“We don’t know whether they are still alive or not, because we have yet to receive any information,” Zulfahcri told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
He said the abduction of the three fishermen from Belawan took place on July 9, followed by a similar abduction of the other four fishermen from Langkat regency seven days later.
Zulfahcri said that such abductions took place frequently in the area, especially ahead of Ramadhan and Idul Fitri, adding that the pirates usually demand a ransom.
He cited the abduction of the four fishermen from Langkat, in which the pirates are reported to have demanded Rp 100 million (US$10,600) to release them.
“They usually demand a ransom to free the fishermen,” said Zulfahcri.
He said the attacks had caused fear among many fishermen who face difficulties in meeting their daily needs, let alone fulfilling demands for payoffs.
“The fishermen become further upset with every attack. We have repeatedly reported the crimes to the authorities, but piracy remains widespread at sea,” said Zulfahcri.
As for the perpetrators, he went on, they mostly hail from coastal areas in North Sumatra.
“Most of them are from Belawan or Cermin Beach,” he said, without giving more details.
North Sumatra Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Heru Prakoso acknowledged that sea security by the North Sumatra Water Police Unit remained inadequate due to limited patrol facilities.
He said the water police were currently equipped only with small vessels with limited capacity to reach the open sea, so it was difficult for police to monitor crime there.
“Police find it almost impossible to patrol the open sea because we only have small boats. This is an obstacle and why piracy remains rampant,” Heru said.
He added that sea security was not only the responsibility of the police but also the Indonesian Military (TNI) Navy, which is much more well equipped.
“The police and navy have the same responsibility to secure our sea territory from acts of crime, including piracy and illegal fishing,” said Heru, who promised to intensify sea patrols in crime-ridden areas.