Piracy watchdog records unprecedented jump in sea attacks

January 17th, 2009 - 11:48 am ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Jan 17 (DPA) Global seafarers faced an alarming rise in pirate attacks last year, with an unprecedented 49 ships beings seized and 889 crewmembers held for ransom, a maritime watchdog has said in its yearly report.A total of 293 attacks were recorded in 2008, from 263 recorded in the previous year, the London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said from its reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.

It also noted a surge in the number of violent attacks last year.

A total 46 vessels were fired upon, 32 crewmembers injured, 11 killed, 21 missing and presumed dead, the report said Friday. The number of incidents in which guns were used nearly doubled from 72 in 2007 to 139 last year.

“In terms of crew taken hostage, the 2008 statistics surpass all figures recorded,” said IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan.

Attacks in the east coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden made up 38 percent of the attacks at 111 cases.

Other hotspots for high-seas piracy include Nigeria with 40 attacks and Indonesia with 28, the IMB noted.

The IMB urged governments to heighten security patrols in their waters and ships to remain vigilant against attacks.

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