KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The waters off Somalia rank as the world's most active area for pirates, The International Maritime Bureau said Thursday.
The coastal waters off Somalia in the Gulf of Aden saw nearly a third of the 199 piracy attacks reported worldwide in the first nine months of 2008, the bureau said.
Around the globe, 115 vessels were boarded and 31 vessels hijacked with 581 crew members taken hostage, nine killed and seven missing and presumed dead, Maritime Global Net reported.
Sixty-three of the attacks reportedly came from Somali pirates who hijacked 26 vessels and took 537 crew members hostage. As of the end of September, 12 vessels remained under Somali pirates' control with more than 250 crew members still held hostage, the bureau said.
"It is clear that pirates in the Gulf of Aden believe that they can operate with impunity," said the bureau's director Pottengal Mukundan, noting the second most active piracy region was off Nigeria with 24 reported incidents while Indonesia ranked third with 23.