LONDON, April 21 (UPI) -- The International Maritime Bureau said Tuesday that the first quarter of 2009 has seen a sharp spike in pirate incidents off the volatile coast of Somalia.
The bureau's Piracy Reporting Center released a report that documented 102 incidents with pirates off the Somali coast in the first quarter compared with 53 during the same period in 2008. The near doubling suggests a growing seriousness of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, reported the IMB, which is part of the International Chamber of Commerce.
The Piracy Reporting Center also found that in the first three months of 2009, actual pirate attacks have increased by 20 percent -- including nine hijacked vessels.
The increase in violence in the Gulf of Aden has put an international spotlight on the Horn of Africa region. While organizations like the International Crisis Group have called for increased measures to address the root problems of piracy stemming from Somalia's failed state, the international community has responded with new deployments of naval forces to the region.
"The navies have played a key role in controlling piracy in the Gulf of Aden," Pottengal Mukundan, IMB director, said in statement.
"It is vital that these naval operations continue."