SEOUL/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Pirates attacked a South Korean-flagged cargo ship in the South China Sea early on Monday, stealing thousands of dollars in cash and even the sailors’ shoes, South Korean authorities said.
Two people sustained minor injuries when seven pirates boarded the CK Bluebell and made off with $13,000 and belongings including mobile phones, clothes and shoes from the 22-strong crew, officials from the oceans and fisheries ministry said.
Tougher policing has made piracy less frequent on the strategic shipping route in recent years.
The dry bulk vessel CK Bluebell had set sail from its anchorage off Singapore on Saturday afternoon, heading northeast for South Korea’s port of Incheon, Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking data showed.
Korean officials said the ship was sailing normally after the robbery.
The incident took place near the Singapore Strait, a busy sea lane that runs past Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said.
Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) said the incident did not take place in city-state’s waters.
“The MPA was informed by the Korea Coast Guard that it took place in the South China Sea near Anambas Islands,” a spokesman said.
This month, China’s Ministry of Transport raised its security recommendation for Chinese vessels in the nearby Malacca Strait, between the Malay peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
A Chinese official declined to specify the reason for the new security level, saying only that the decision was the result of comprehensive research taking into account all factors.
Reporting by Josh Smith and Joyce Lee in SEOUL and John Geddie in SINGAPORE; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez