News Column

Somali Piracy on the Wane

July 15, 2013

Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden dropped to their lowest level since 2006, an international watch group said on Monday.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which has a monitoring centre in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, said only eight piracy attacks, including two hijackings, were reported in the area in the first six months of 2013.

The IMB put the drop down to naval action and measures taken by commercial vessels, such as hiring private security personnel.

"The navies continue to play a vital role in ensuring this threat is under control," Pottengal Mukundan, the IMB director, said. The two hijacked vessels were recovered before the pirates could take them to Somalia.

The IMB said that as of June 30, Somali pirates were still holding 57 crew members for ransom on four vessels.

Mukundan expressed concern over the rise of acts of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, and outlying areas, where a total of 31 attacks including four hijackings were reported from January to June.

"There has been a worrying trend in the kidnapping of crew from vessels well outside the territorial limits of coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea," he said.

"Pirates have used motherships, some of which were smaller offshore supply vessels hijacked by pirates to conduct the attacks," Mukundan added.

The IMB said armed pirates in the Gulf of Guinea took 56 sailors hostage and were responsible for all 30 kidnappings of crew reported in 2013.

The watch group said it recorded a total of 138 pirate attacks in the first half of 2013 throughout the world, down from 177 for the same period last year.

A total of seven hijackings have been reported worldwide, down from 20 for the same period last year, while the number of sailors taken hostage fell to 127 from 334.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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