According to the Hartford Courant, pirate attacks on ships fell last year to their lowest since 1999 as incidents declined off Indonesia, the world's most dangerous area for piracy. Attacks off Somalia and Iraq surged. Attacks dropped 16 percent, to 276. About 440 crewmembers were taken hostage last year, the highest since data has been compiled in 1992. Indonesia, whose oil-rich Aceh province has been struck by a separatist rebellion, accounted for almost a third of the attacks, with 79 incidents last year, down from 94. The government and a separatist rebel movement known as GAM signed a peace accord in August in their third attempt in four years to end a conflict that has killed more than 12,000 people in the southeastern Asian nation since 1976. Somalia ranked as the world's second-most dangerous area for piracy last year. Attacks rose to 35 from two.
The robbers appear to be working from mother ships, and they regularly use guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. With no central government or national law enforcement, captured ships get no local help, the bureau said. Five ships are currently held captive in Somalia's waters. Bangladesh came in second, with 21 pirate attacks on ships last year, up from 17 in 2004, followed by Nigeria, with 16 incidents, down from 28. Incidents off Iraq, which ranked seventh with Vietnam and the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, rose to 10 from one in the previous year.
(Source: Hartford Courant)