Pirate attacks reached an all-time high this year but fewer ships are being hijacked due to tougher policing by international naval forces, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
There were 352 attacks in the first nine months of the year, up from 289 for the same period in 2010, as Somali pirates moved further into the Red Sea, the maritime watchdog said in its latest report. Pirates displayed “unprecedented boldness” by hijacking a chemical tanker at anchor in an Omani port in August.
But while Somali pirates are launching more attacks – 199 this year against 126 in the first nine months of 2010 – they are hijacking fewer vessels. Only 24 ships were seized by Somali pirates through September 30 compared to 35 in the year earlier period, according to the IMB’s piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.
“Somali pirates are finding it harder to hijack ships and get the ransom they ask for,” said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB. “The navies deserve to be complimented on their excellent work: they are a vital force in deterring and disrupting pirate activity. The number of anti-piracy naval units must be maintained or increased”.
Pirates took 625 hostages, killed eight people and injured 41 in the first nine months of 2011.
The West African coast of Benin has seen a surge in violent piracy with 19 attacks resulting in the hijacking of eight tankers this year. There were no incidents in 2010. Piracy and armed robberies in Asian waters, including the Indian subcontinent, are down to 87 from 106 in the first three quarters of 2010.
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