Somali attacks push piracy to new levels

Jan. 16, 2009 at 3:18 PM

LONDON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- International piracy has reached new levels thanks primarily to an upsurge in piracy acts off the Somali coast, the International Maritime Bureau says.

The bureau's Piracy Reporting Center said of the total 293 incidents of piracy and armed robbery that targeted ships in 2008, 111 of the attacks took place near the coast of Somalia, AllAfrica.com said Friday.

Capt. Pottengal Mukundan, the director of the London bureau, said the total figures marked the highest piracy total the bureau has amassed since it was founded in 1991.

"This is due primarily to the situation in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, with a total of 42 vessels hijacked and 815 crew taken hostage," Mukundan said.

The center's annual report said Somali piracy reached a peak last September when 19 attacks occurred in the area.

Mukundan said the best way to curb piracy in the troubled maritime region was through the involvement of international naval groups, AllAfrica.com reported.

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