The ship, carrying five million litres of diesel had a mixed crew including Indian nationals.

Port Klang Marine Police Norza Muhammad Said informed that the ship was sailing 16 nautical miles off Pulau Ketam on its way to Myanmar from Singapore when it was boarded by armed pirates.

"The incident occurred at about 1 am and it was only realized by the crew members when they saw about five or six men armed with a pistol and a sickle aboard the ship. All of the victims were tied and locked in a room," he said.

Two tankers then approached the ship and three million litres of diesel was pumped out over a span of several hours. "They fled about five or six hours later," he said.

He said the crew managed to free themselves several hours after the incident and upon doing a headcount they realized that three Indonesian crew members were missing.

"The crew members comprised Indonesian, Thai, Myanmar and Indian nationals. But the Indonesians were nowhere in sight.

"We suspect that they have been kidnapped by the suspects. The ship has now has been anchored and we are investigating the case," he said. No further details on the vessel were provided.

The Strait of Malacca, a key highway for sea traffic between and Asia, Europe and the Middle East is a route for nearly a quarter of the world's seaborne oil trade.

(Agencies)

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