Piracy attacks rose 10% in 2007
Reported piracy incidents rose 10 percent in 2007 compared to the previous year, as attacks grew more violent, and increased significantly in Nigerian and Somalian waters, the International Maritime Bureau said.
Attacks on ships numbered 263 for 2007, up from 239 in 2006, based on statistics compiled by the IMB Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur.
Pirates and robbers boarding vessels were better armed and more brazen in assaulting and injuring crewmembers. IMB reported a 35 percent increase in incidents involving guns, with 64 injured or assaulted, compared with 17 in 2006.
“This significant increase is directly attributable to the increase in incidents in Nigeria and Somalia,” said Capt. Pottengal Mukundan, IMB director, adding pirates in these two countries attacked vessels further out at sea and were better armed and organized, amid a lack of proper law enforcement.
In Nigeria, attacks were concentrated in Lagos, where 25 attacks took place, and in the Niger Delta region. Many attacks were staged by heavily armed groups with political grievances. Forty-two incidents were reported last year in Nigeria, from 12 in 2006.
In Somalia piracy incidents more than tripled to 31 from 10 reported the year before. The most kidnappings were also recorded on ships in Somali waters in 2007, where pirates held 154 crew hostage in 11 hijackings.
The bureau said “recent intervention by the international community and coalition forces may prove to be the only way to stop the pirates, which have until now shown complete disregard for the law.”
In December, the U.S. Navy adopted more aggressive tactics to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia, pursuing and destroying pirate ships.
The IMB said piracy was “on the wane in several states in Southeast Asia, as national authorities have cooperated to tackle the problem. In Indonesia, where authorities have been extremely vigilant, many of the attacks involve lower-level crimes, including theft. Attacks have fallen to 43 reported incidents last year, a steady, year-on-year decline from 121 in 2003. Similarly, attacks in the Malacca Straits, previously a hotspot, have continued to drop since 2004, as well as in Malaysia and the Singapore Straits.”
In Bangladesh the number of incidents fell to 15, well below 47 recorded the previous year.
Free copies of IMB piracy reports can be requested at www.icc-ccs.org/main/publication.php.