Pirates attack more vessels, but hijack less

Since May 20, 14 vessels have been attacked in the Southern Red Sea.

Kuala Lumpur: Over 260 pirate attacks were
witnessed on world`s seas in the first six months of the year,
most of them by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea, but the
number of hijacks went down due to strong international naval
patrolling on the Eastern coast of Africa.

The International Marime Bureau`s Piracy Reporting Centre
said the year 2011 saw a total of 266 attacks in the first
half of the year, up from 196 incidents in the same period
last year.

More than 60 per cent of the attacks were by Somali
pirates, a majority of which were in the Arabian Sea area,
said the report, Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships.

As of June 30, Somali pirates were holding 20 vessels and
420 crew, and demanding ransoms of millions of dollars for
their release.

"In the last six months, Somali pirates attacked more
vessels than ever before and they`re taking higher risks,"
said IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan.

"This June, for the first time, pirates fired on ships in
rough seas in the Indian Ocean during the monsoon season. In
the past, they would have stayed away in such difficult
conditions. Masters should remain vigilant," he said.

In the first six months, many of the attacks have been
east and north-east of the Gulf of Aden, an area frequented by
crude oil tankers sailing from the Arabian Gulf, as well as
other traffic sailing into the Gulf of Aden.

Since May 20, 14 vessels have been attacked in the
Southern Red Sea.

"It is necessary that shipboard protection measures are in
place as they sail through this area," Mukundan said.

However, though Somali pirates were more active 163
attacks this year up from 100 in the first six months of 2010
they managed to hijack fewer ships, 21 in the first half of
2011 compared with 27 in the same period last year.

The report attributed this to increased ship hardening and
to the actions of international naval forces to disrupt pirate
groups off the east coast of Africa.

"It is vital that this naval presence be sustained or
increased," the report cautioned.

Somali pirates took 361 sailors hostage and kidnapped 13
in the first six months of 2011. Worldwide, 495 seafarers were
taken hostage.

Pirates also killed seven people and injured 39.

Ninety-nine vessels were boarded, 76 fired upon and 62
thwarted attacks were reported.

Ships, including oil and chemical tankers, are
increasingly being attacked with automatic weapons and rocket
propelled grenade launchers.

Whereas five years ago pirates were just as likely to
brandish a knife as a gun, this year guns were used in 160
attacks and knives in 35.

A surge in particularly violent and highly organised
attacks has hit the coast of West Africa this year, the piracy
reporting centre said, listing 12 attacks on tankers off Benin
since March, an area where no incidents were reported in 2010.

Five vessels were hijacked and forced to sail to unknown
locations, where pirates ransacked and stole the vessel`s
equipment, and part of their product oil cargoes.

Six more tankers were boarded, mainly in violent armed
robbery style attacks, and one attempted attack was reported.
Overall, 50 incidents were recorded for Indonesia,
Malaysia, Singapore Straits and the South China Seas in the
first two quarters of 2011.

Three tugs were hijacked by armed pirates and 41 vessels
were boarded.


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