IMB: Piracy Increases off of Somalia

Tuesday, November 08, 2005
The BBC News reports that the problem was highlighted over the weekend, when a luxury cruise liner was attacked and pursued by pirates. The greatest number of attacks overall were off Indonesia, with 61 of a total of 205 attacks reported worldwide. Globally, though, reports indicate that attacks fell 18 percent in the first nine months of 2005 on the same period of 2004, said the report from the International Maritime Bureau. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) says in the nine-month period of 2005, 141 ships were boarded, 15 fired upon and 11 were hijacked. Of the 259 crewmembers taken hostage, 12 are still missing.

The most alarming rise in attacks was off the eastern and north-eastern coast of Somalia, where attacks shot up from one in 2004 to 19 in 2005. In one incident, the report says, a vessel was lured closer to the shore by pirates who set off distress flares. Attacks have continued apace since the end of the period in question, the IMB told the BBC News website, with an additional nine attacks since 1 October. The report says daily warnings are transmitted to ships sailing close to Somalia advising them to keep as far away as possible. Indonesian waters remain far and away the most vulnerable to pirate attacks. This is mainly attributed to the high level of commercial maritime activity in the area, along with high levels of lawlessness and organized crime. Other piracy hotspots include Bangladesh and Nigeria, both with 14 attacks, India with 12 and Jamaica with seven. Ten separate attacks were recorded in the Malacca Straits - which divide Malaysia and the large Indonesian island of Sumatra - despite a period of relative quiet following December's tsunami. Seven took place in the Singapore Straits. And an additional eight attacks were reported in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Six attacks have been reported off the Basra oil terminal since April 22, despite the close proximity of coalition naval ships. Pirates never attempt attacks unarmed, the report says. Guns and knives are pirates' weapons of choice, with roughly equal usage of both.

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