July 12, 2007
Piracy incidents on the rise
Piracy and armed robbery attacks against ships rose 37 percent in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period a year ago, the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported today.
"Despite a sustained decrease in acts of piracy over the past three years, the statistics for the second quarter suggest that we may be seeing a reversal of this trend," said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the IMB.
Worldwide, attacks in 2007 so far number 126, about the same as in the first half of 2006.
The IMB report shows that thus far this year, 13 vessels were hijacked by heavily armed attackers, 152 crew members were taken hostage, 41 were kidnapped and three were killed.
The IMB Piracy Reporting Center (PRC) recorded 17 incidents in Somalia this year, a dramatic increase over the same period last year when eight attacks were registered.
As a result, the International Maritime Organization has referred this issue to the United Nations Security Council.
"We hope they will prevail upon the transitional federal government in Somalia to permit naval units from other countries to assist hijacked vessels. It is only when the pirates see they can no longer make easy money by seizing vessels that we will see a reduction in attacks," Captain Mukundan said.
Attacks are also on the rise in Nigerial, where local groups claiming to be in pursuit of political goals boarded 15 vessels and hijacked another ship, targeting individuals for kidnap or ransom and cargo ships offshore. Forty crew members have been kidnapped and 24 taken hostage this year. Oil tankers conducting ship-to-ship operations off the coast of the capital city of Lagos are particularly vulnerable, Captain Mukundan said.
In contrast, the previous high rate of attacks in the Malacca Straits has dropped significantly. No incidents were reported in this area in the second quarter of this year, thanks largely to cooperation between states bordering these waters.