Piracy soared in 2003: IMB

Piracy soared in 2003: IMB

LONDON - Attacks on international shipping soared in 2003, the International Maritime Bureau said today.

The number of reported attacks on vessels rose to 445 from 370 in 2002, the second-highest total since the IMB started compiling statistics in 1991.

The number of seamen killed also climbed to 21 compared with 10 in the previous year, while 71 crew and passengers are listed as missing and 88 were injured, the IMB said in its annual report. The number of hostages taken also nearly doubled to 359 in 2003.

The IMB said the number of ships attacked for the theft of the vessel and its cargo has fallen sharply but more vulnerable craft such as barges and tugs are being targeted and crews are being abducted for ransom.

The waters off Indonesia, including the busy Malacca Straits, continue to be among the world's most dangerous with 121 reported incidents, followed by Bangladesh with 58 and Nigeria with 39.

-- Bruce Barnard