Piracy cases on the rise

Published on January 18, 2008, 12:00 am

By Khadija Yusuf

Piracy incidents in the world increased by 10 per cent in 2007, according to the latest annual report from the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

The statistics drastically rose for the first time last year.

There were 263 incidents reported on ships attacks last year, compared to 239 cases in 2006. The report further notes that 18 vessels were hijacked last year compared to 2006 where the tallies stood at 14.

More than 292 crew members were taken hostage compared to 188 in 2006, with 63 crew members kidnapped, five killed and three are still reported missing to date.

Liberia leads with a record 28 cases of attack on ships from 2003 to 2007 followed by Antigua-Barmuda with 13 and Cyprus 10 cases. Somalia recorded 12 attacks, Nigeria five while Kenya had two attempts on actual and attempted attacks by location on Africa waters last year. The report also shows that three incidents on ports and anchorage attack attempts were reported at the Mombasa port last year while Dar-es-Salaam port had 11 attempts.

The report, further states that the pirates boarding the vessels were better armed and had a propensity to assault the crew. Guns were used in 72 incidents, an increase of 35 per cent over the past year. The total number of crew assaulted and injured stands at 64 compared to 17 in 2006.

"The majority of these incidents have occurred off the Somali coastline," said IMB director captain Pottengal Mukundan.

Commenting on the latest figures Capt Mukundan said the increase in piracy cases could be attributed to unrest in Nigeria and Somalia. "Nigeria and Somalia give us the greatest cause for concern. Indonesia has in fact seen a continued downturn in the number of reported incidents and many of the attacks are low level crimes aimed at petty theft from the vessels," said Mukundan.

The two countries account for 42 and 31 of the 2007 figures respectively compared with 12 and 10 attacks in 2006.

While the spread-out nature of attacks on the Indonesian archipelago, attacks in Nigeria are concentrated in a few hotspots. Out of 35 vessels boarded in Nigeria, 25 were attacked in Lagos.

Mukundan says Somalia saw the highest hostages taken (154) in 11 hijackings. The recent intervention by the international community and patrol activities by the coalition naval forces proved to be the only way forward in controlling the pirates," said Mukundan.

Somalia was also welcomed back to the League of Nations with ports.

Mukundan, however, said piracy attacks on Bangladeshi waters reduced from 47 in 2006 to 15 in 2007 including the number of reported incidents in the Malacca Straits that have continued to decline for the third year.



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