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Somali piracy hits five-year low, but West African attacks increase

GLOBAL piracy hit a five-year low of 297 attacks in 2012 with the biggest reduction off the Somali coast, but attacks off West Africa increased.

Somali piracy hits five-year low, but West African attacks increase
18 January 2013 - 21:03
GLOBAL piracy hit a five-year low of 297 attacks in 2012 with the biggest reduction off the Somali coast, but attacks off West Africa increased, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IBM).

Over the five year period the level of violence reduced worldwide with 174 ships boarded by pirates, 28 hijacked and 28 fired upon, according to the latest figures from the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. Globally the number of people held hostage reduced from 585 in 2012 to 802 in 2011.

During the year, six crewmen were killed and 32 injured or assaulted showing a welcome reduction in piracy, said International Maritime Bureau director Pottengal Mukundan. "Crews must remain vigilant, particularly in highly dangerous waters," he said.

There were 58 incidents recorded in the Gulf of Guinea alone which included 10 hijacking and 207 crew members taken hostage. Piracy has been seen in the Gulf of Oman, southern Red Sea and the Somali basin, with a number of attacks close to the Straits of Hormuz and the energy routes out of the Arabian Gulf.

The presence of international navies is still essential to deal with Somali pirates and withdrawal would see a return to form, added Mr Mukundan.

Of most concern are the high levels of violence used against crew members in the Gulf of Guinea with guns reported in at least 37 of the 58 incidents reported, except for Benin whose incident rate dropped from 20 in 2011 to two in 2012.

In Nigeria, 13 vessels were boarded, eight fired upon and two attempted attacks from 10 reported attacks in 2011. Togo increased from five in 2011 to 15 in 2012 of which four were hijackings.

The Ivory Coast reported its first hijacking of a panamax tanker by Nigerian pirates in the final quarter of 2012 highlighting the geographical range these pirates will go to, said the report.
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