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Pirate attacks increase

Pirate attacks increase
Piracy attacks more than doubled globally, in the first six months of the year as compared to the same period last year.

Piracy attacks more than doubled globally, in the first six months of the year as compared to the same period last year.

Piracy attacks more than doubled globally, in the first six months of the year as compared to the same period last year.

Between January and June this year, there were 240 reports as compared to 114 last year, the ICC International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB) said today.

According to its report, attacks in Southeast Asia and the Far East increased 100 per cent, from 10 in the first quarter to 21 in the second, confirming a similar trend seen last year.

The only difference is that the attacks in the first quarter were against vessels at anchor, while during the second quarter, they were against vessels at sea, it said.

Two incidents have been recorded for the Malacca Straits this year, although none were reported for the second quarter.

In Indonesia, the second quarter saw only two incidents compared with six in the corresponding period last year.

"This is a clear indication that piracy and robbery in Southeast and East Asia have the potential to escalate, and shipmasters should remain alert and be aware of the risks involved in the seaway and ports.

"The continued efforts of Indonesian authorities should be noted for bringing piracy and armed robbery down in their waters," said IMB director Pottengal Mukundan in a statement Wednesday.

According to the report, as in the last quarterly report, the rise in overall numbers is due almost entirely to increased Somali pirate activity off the Gulf of Aden and east coast of Somalia, with 86 and 44 incidents reported, respectively.

"The year's second quarter saw 136 reports of piracy as compared with 104 in the first three months of 2009, an increase of almost a third," it said.

Seventy-eight vessels were boarded worldwide, 75 vessels fired upon and 31 vessels hijacked with some 561 crew taken hostage, 19 injured, seven kidnapped, six killed and eight missing.

The attackers were heavily armed with guns and knives in the majority of incidents, and violence against crew members continues to increase, the report concluded.

Nevertheless, the presence of navies in the Gulf of Aden from several countries made it difficult for pirates to hijack vessels and led them to seek new areas of operation such as the southern Red Sea and the east coast of Oman, where Somali pirates are believed to be responsible for a spate of recent attacks.

The report said that the attacks off the eastern coast of Somalia had decreased in recent months, after peaking in March and April, with no attacks reported in June.

The Piracy Reporting Centre attributed the decline to heavy weather associated with the monsoons that are expected to continue in August, however adding that vigilance should nevertheless, remain high during this period.

Nigeria continues to be a high risk area, with 13 incidents reported in the second quarter to the IMB and at least, 24 other attacks which have not been directly reported.

According to Mukundan, the majority of the piracy attacks were against vessels supporting the oil industry.

"There is a need for every incident to be reported and brought to the intention of the Nigerian authorities. This is the only way in which the true risk associated to the area can be determined and accurate advice, given to shipmasters, owners and traders," he said.

Mukundun said, regardless of the location, reporting to independent organisations such as the IMB was the key to identifying piracy hotspots worldwide.


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