Pirates release ship, minus cargo

Pirates release ship, minus cargo

KUALA LUMPUR - A Thai-flagged oil tanker that was missing for two days after being hijacked by pirates near Singapore has been released with its cargo missing, the International Maritime Bureau said on Wednesday.

The IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy centre said the vessel became uncontactable on Sunday after leaving Singapore four days earlier.

"The pirates stole its cargo and damaged the ship's communication equipment. All crew are safe," the centre said.

The ship, originally bound for Vietnam, will return to Singapore.

Pirate attacks in the region, home to the Straits of Malacca, a key shipping route connecting east Asia with Europe and Africa, have dropped in recent years. 

The decline in attacks has been attributed to increased patrols and co-operation with neighbouring countries to secure waterways.

But pirate attacks have increased this year, with the Southeast Asian region reporting 57 such incidents in the first half of 2013.

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