Singapore raises terror alert on Malacca Strait, one of the world's most important oil shipping lanes
Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore raised terror alert levels after a tip-off that terrorists are planning to attack vessels in the Malacca Strait. The threat hasn't prevented millions of barrels of oil from being shipped through the strait daily.
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Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore raised security alerts today following a foreign tip that terrorists are plotting to attack vessels plying the Malacca Strait, though millions of barrels of oil continue to pass through daily.
"All alert levels have been raised, not just for ships, but also for the security measures that we have undertaken for Singapore," Singapore's home affairs minister said today in Parliament.
In one of the world’s busiest waterways, a disruption in the strait – the narrow body of water between Malaysia and Indonesia (see map) – would have a massive ripple effect on regional and world economies. Roughly one-third of oil shipments transported by boat pass through the strait, making it one of the two most important oil shipping lanes in the world, according to 2006-07 data from the US Department of Energy.
The advisory sent out by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) on Wednesday has reportedly led to increased maritime and air patrols but has not affected shipping traffic. Singapore's Navy has put more ships into the strait and boosted the Coast Guard presence to prevent an attack on the island itself. Police boats have been “tasked to look out for, and inspect, small boats that come close to large vessels that are berthed at anchorages here,” reports Singapore’s Straits Times.
Malaysia’s Coast Guard said it has increased security in the narrow waterway, and Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro told Reuters the country has also stepped up patrols. “Oil tankers can pass, but we will increase our readiness," the minister said.
The original tip-off came from Japan, Reuters quoted a Thai official as saying, which informed the IMB that ships could be hijacked. A bureau official reconfirmed that this was a terror threat, not a piracy threat. (Read about Japan’s increased efforts against piracy here.)