Report shifts piracy concerns to west African coast

April 15, 2013 at 11:06 AM
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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, April 15 (UPI) -- Instances of piracy worldwide dropped to 66 in the first three months of 2012 from 102 incidents for the first quarter of 2011, a maritime watchdog said Monday.

In the first three months of 2013, four vessels were hijacked, 51 vessels were boarded, seven were fired upon and four reported attempted attacks, the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau's report said. Seventy five crew members were taken hostage, 14 kidnapped and one killed.

The Gulf of Guinea, an area of the Atlantic Ocean between Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia, was becoming an area of concern with 15 incidents reported, including three hijackings, the chamber said.

It said Nigeria accounted for 11 incidents in the region, including the hijacking of an offshore supply vessel with 15 crew members. Also, 14 crew members were kidnapped from four different vessels in Nigeria, the report issued by the chamber's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Three incidents were recorded in the Ivory Coast, including the hijacking of two tankers, the report said.

On the eastern side of Africa, Somalia recorded five incidents during the first quarter, including the hijacking of a fishing vessel and its 20-member crew.

In the Indian Ocean, two vessels were fired upon and two attempted attacks were reported against tankers in the Gulf of Aden, the report said.

Somali pirates still hold five vessels with 60 crew members on board and an additional 17 crew members were held captive on land.

"Although the number of acts of piracy reported in Somalia has significantly decreased, there can be no room for complacency," IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan said in the release. "The drop in reported attacks is due to proactive naval actions against suspect Pirate Action Groups, the employment of privately contracted armed security personnel and the preventive measures used by the merchant vessels ... . The attacks will rise to past levels if the naval presence is reduced or vessels relax their vigilance."

Indonesia reported 25 incidents of hijacking, the report said. While mainly low-level thefts were reported, vessels were boarded in 24 of the incidents, the watchdog said.

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