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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sea piracy drops worldwide in first half 2005, but...

IMB says Sea piracy drops worldwide . Among the "howevers:"
But the International Maritime Bureau warned of "a new and worrying trend" of armed robberies in Iraqi waters, noting that four "serious incidents" were reported there between April and June, despite the presence of U.S.-led coalition naval ships in the area.

Before this year, "attacks in and around Iraq were almost nonexistent," the bureau noted. It did not give details on why Iraqi waters have become more dangerous.

Security also worsened dramatically off Somalia's east coast, where bandits with guns and grenades attacked eight vessels and sometimes seized hostages for ransom. Only one attack occurred in Somalia between January and June last year.

"Pirates operating off Somalia have become increasingly audacious," bureau Director Pottengal Mukundan said. "Their demands for ransom are higher than ever before and negotiations for the release of the vessel and crew can become difficult and prolonged."

Ships not making scheduled calls on Somalian ports should remain at least 80 kilometers (50 miles) or "as far away as practical" from the east coast of the country, which is beset by political problems and poor law enforcement, the report said.

Indonesia's waters remained the world's most pirate-infested, though the number of attacks across the country's sprawling archipelago so far this year slipped to 42 -- one-third of the worldwide total -- compared to 50 in the first half of 2004.
However, considering the tsunami and all that, this doesn't seem to be a significant decline. Besides, it's all in the noted here in the Telegraph:
The pirates of the Malacca Strait, one of the world's most important waterways, are mounting more serious attacks than ever before after recovering from the Boxing Day tsunami, a report says today.

Lloyds of London recently added the straits to its list of war and terrorism risk areas and private military companies are offering their services to escort vessels through it.

About 50,000 ships use the strait every year, carrying a quarter of the world's sea-borne trade, including half its tanker-shipped oil.

For two months after the tsunami, when some of the world's most powerful navies were stationed in the region, there were no attacks.

But an International Maritime Bureau report says that since then there have been 14 incidents in the straits, between Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and the Singapore Strait at its southern end, making the area the most dangerous in the world.

Capt Jayant Abhyankar, the deputy director of the bureau, said: "What has changed is the nature of the attacks. People are now taking the crew as hostages and demanding ransoms. That is a worrying trend."

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