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Somali pirates still hold 200 hostages

Dec. 23, 2011 at 3:27 PM

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Somali pirates are holding 200 hostages for ransom, the European Union's anti-piracy mission says.

The EU anti-piracy mission released a statement noting, "There are currently 199 men and one woman held hostage in Somalia following the pirating of their ships in the Indian Ocean and all are being held against their will to be used by criminal gangs as part of a ransom business."

The EU report said the fate of kidnapped crew members, unless they are high-profile individuals, "is not often considered or reported."

During the period January-September of this year, Somali pirates attacked 199 ships, a sharp increase from the same period in 2010, when 126 international vessels were assaulted.

Despite the increase in assaults however, the pirates have been less successful, as they only managed to commandeer 24 vessels that were hijacked by the end of October, compared with 35 for the same period in 2010, Shabelle Media Network news agency reported Friday.

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