Indonesia leads record piracy attacks

Indonesia leads record piracy attacks

Piracy attacks on merchant shipping soared to a record 344 incidents in the first nine months of the year from 271 a year earlier while the number of crew killed rose from six to 20, the International Maritime Bureau said Friday.

The waters off Indonesia remain the most dangerous with armed attacks on chemical and gas tankers in the Malacca Straits, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, threatening an environmental disaster, the IMB warned in its latest quarterly piracy report.

"In most cases the attacks are thought to be led by [Islamic] Aech rebels," the London-based Bureau said. The group is thought to have links to al Qaeda.

Most of the attacks are within the same 30 nautical mile radius of the rebel stronghold in Sumatra. In July there were three attempted boardings by pirates in quick succession in the Malacca Straits: pirates raked a liquefied petroleum gas tanker, a gas tanker and an oil tanker with automatic fire but the crews managed to thwart the attacks.

The report said Indonesia accounted for 87 reported incidents, followed by Bangladesh, 37 and Nigeria, 28.