W. African piracy tops Somali piracy, report says

June 18, 2013 at 10:49 AM
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LONDON, June 18 (UPI) -- The number of ships and sailors attacked off West Africa last year exceeded those assaulted by Somalia-based pirates, three organizations reported Tuesday.

A report published in London indicated while sailors attacked in the Gulf of Guinea spent far less time in captivity than those held captive by Somali pirates, they also faced the risk of greater violence, The New York Times reported.

The document published by the International Maritime Bureau, Oceans Beyond Piracy and Maritime Piracy-Humanitarian Response also said West African pirates were motivated by the prospect of quick money from selling hijacked cargoes, while Somali pirates sought large ransoms and held captives for much longer periods.

The report said Somali pirate attacks dropped by nearly 80 percent compared with 2011, with 851 sea travelers attacked compared with 966 sailors attacked by West African pirates.

"The year 2012 marked the first time since the surge in piracy off the coast of Somalia that the reported number of both ships and seafarers attacked in the Gulf of Guinea surpassed that of the Gulf of Aden and of the Western Indian Ocean," the report said.

In West Africa, hostages were held an average four days, while 11 months was the median captivity period with Somali pirates, the report said.

The report said its findings indicated fewer pirate groups were from Somali bases because of increased patrols by international navies and ships using more effective security measures.

However, Somalia pirates still operating were more effective, meaning "the success rate of pirate attacks improved at the same time that the total number of attacks where the vessel was fired upon dropped," the report said.

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