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Jakarta to extend ban on coal exports to Philippines amid hijacking fears

Jakarta to extend ban on coal exports to Philippines amid hijacking fears
Troubles in the Southern Philippines continue with Indonesia vowing to extend a moratorium on coal exports to the Philippines until Manila can guarantee security in its waters, Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi was quoted as saying in local media.

This is a result of a spate of hijackings targeting Indonesian vessels, the most recent of which saw seven Indonesian sailors being kidnapped, allegedly by Abu Sayyaf militants, from an Indonesian tug boat towing a coal barge in the southern Philippines this week.

The Indonesian Navy in April instructed that all commercial vessels avoid piracy-prone waters around the southern Philippines. Meanwhile at the beginning of this week, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines agreed to designate a transit corridor for commercial vessels crossing the hijacking-prone maritime zone.

Nearly 20 Indonesian and Malaysian tugboat crews have reportedly been kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf militants this year, and fears have been expressed that the problem could become as bad as it was off the coast of Somalia previously.