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Piracy flourishes in 2007

Piracy flourishes in 2007
REPORTED piracy incidents worldwide increased by 10% in 2007, according to the latest annual report from the ICC International Maritime Bureau.


REPORTED piracy incidents worldwide increased by 10% in 2007, according to the latest annual report from the ICC International Maritime Bureau. This was first increase since 2003 and was also accompanied by a marked climb in the level of violence against crew members. Five seafarers were murdered and three are still listed as missing.

There were 263 reported attacks on ships in 2007, compared to 239 in 2006, according to statistics compiled by the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Last year 18 vessels were hijacked, up from 14 in 2006 while 292 crew members were held hostage on their vessels compared to 188 in 2006 and 63 were kidnapped and taken off their ships.

The IMB notes: ?The nature of the attacks indicates that the pirates and robbers boarding the vessels are better armed and they have shown no hesitation in assaulting and injuring the crew. Guns were confirmed to have been used in 72 incidents an increase of 35% over the past year. The total number of crew assaulted and injured is 64 as compared to 17 in 2006. The majority of these incidents have occurred off the Somali coastline.

Commenting on the latest figures, IMB director, Pottengal Mukundan said: ?The significant increase in the numbers can be directly attributed to the increase in the incidents in Nigeria and Somalia. These two countries account for 42 and 31 of the 2007 figures respectively compared with 12 and 10 attacks in 2006.?

He added: ?Nigeria and Somalia give the greatest cause for concern. Indonesia has in fact seen a continued downturn in the number of reported incidents and many of the attacks are low level crimes aimed at theft from the vessel. Credit for this goes to the Indonesian authorities for the positive action taken in reducing the number of incidents. Unlike the attacks that occur throughout the Indonesian archipelago, the majority of the attacks in Nigeria would appear to be much more concentrated in a few hotspots. Thirty-five vessels have been boarded in Nigeria with 25 attacks in Lagos alone. The attacks and kidnappings in the Delta region are done under the banner ?political? movements.?

According to the IMB, Somalia has seen the highest number of hostages taken, 154 in 11 hijackings. The IMB says that the ?recent intervention of the international community and the coalition naval forces may prove to be the only way forward in controlling the pirates who have operated with impunity in these waters until recently?.

?On a more positive note,? Capt Mukundan says, ?authorities in Bangladesh should be applauded for the reduction in the number of attacks from 47 in 2006 to 15 in 2007. Likewise the number of reported incidents in the Malacca Straits continues to be on the decrease for the third successive year ? a good example of co-operation between the states to tackle the problem.?

He also emphasizes the need for greater reporting of attacks as this will lead to a more accurate evaluation of the problem saying: ?Only then can governments take effective steps to counter the problems.?


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