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Piracy highest in West, East Africa, 150 ships attacked in 2012

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shipThere were 297 pirate attacks on ships around the world during 2012, despite piracy reaching a five-year low, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported January 16, 2013.

West and East Africa were the world’s worst hit areas with 150 attacks on ships recorded in 2012.

According to the IMB, worldwide figures were brought down by a huge reduction in Somali piracy, though East and West Africa remain the worst hit areas.

Globally, 174 ships were boarded by pirates last year, while 28 were hijacked and 28 were fired upon, according to the report.

IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre also recorded 67 attempted attacks adding that “The number of people taken hostage onboard fell to 585 from 802 in 2011, while a further 26 were kidnapped for ransom in Nigeria.”

“IMB’s piracy figures show a welcome reduction in hijackings and attacks to ships. But crews must remain vigilant, particularly in the highly dangerous waters off East and West Africa,” said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB.

With specific reference to Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, the piracy report observed that just 75 ships reported attacks in 2012 compared with 237 in 2011, accounting for 25% of incidents worldwide.

The number of Somali hijackings was also halved from 28 in 2011 to 14 last year. But the threat and capability of heavily armed Somali pirates remain strong, IMB cautioned.

For West Africa, the IMB said piracy is rising in the Gulf of Guinea, with 58 incidents recorded in 2012, including 10 hijackings and 207 crew members taken hostage.

According to the Bureau, pirates in this area [West Africa] are particularly “violent, with guns reported in at least 37 of the attacks”.

Benin showed a sharp fall from 20 incidents (including eight hijackings) in 2011 to two (including one hijacking) in 2012, the report said while Nigeria accounted for 27 incidents in 2012, with four vessels hijacked, 13 vessels boarded, eight fired upon and two attempted attacks.

Togo also recorded an increase of piracy from five in 2011 to 15 in 2012, including four hijackings.

Off the Ivory Coast, five incidents were reported in 2012, up from one in 2011.

By Ekow Quandzie

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