Pirate Attacks Rise To 266 In First Half

Reported pirate attacks worldwide reached 266 in the first six months of this year, up from 196 incidents in the corresponding period last year, according to statistics released yesterday by the International Maritime Bureau.

Over 60% of incidents were attributed to Somali pirates. As of June 30, Somali pirates were holding 20 vessels and 420 crew. However, their success rate appears to be down, with just 21 hijacks in the first two quarters, against a tally of 27 in the first two quarters of 2010.

Somali pirates took 361 seafarers hostage and kidnapped 13 in the first six months of 2011. Some 50 incidents were recorded for Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore Straits and the South China Sea in the first half of 2011. Three tugs were hijacked by armed pirates and 41 vessels were boarded.

Worldwide, 495 seafarers were taken hostage. Pirates killed seven people and injured 39. Ninety-nine vessels were boarded, 76 fired upon and 62 thwarted attacks were reported.

The gravity of the situation in the Gulf of Aden appears to be escalating, according to IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan. “This June, for the first time, pirates fired on ships in rough seas in the Indian Ocean during the monsoon season,” he said.

“In the past, they would have stayed away in such difficult conditions. Masters should remain vigilant.”

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