(HN, 4/23/12) - The number of worldwide attacks in January to March dipped to 102, down from 142 cases in the same period in 2011, the International Chamber of Commerce's (ICC), International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia said the latest global piracy report.
However, the IMB cites 102 “incidents of piracy and armed robbery” for the first quarter of 2012, “with dangerously increasing numbers in West African waters.”
According to figures released, “11 vessels were reported hijacked worldwide, with 212 crew members taken hostage and four crew killed. A further 45 vessels were boarded, with 32 attempted attacks and 14 vessels fired upon – the latter all attributed to either Somali or Nigerian pirates.”
The 10 reports received from Nigeria in Q1 2012, equaled “the same number reported in Nigeria for the whole of last year. A further attack in neighboring Benin has also been attributed to Nigerian pirates. The reports include the hijackings of one product and one chemical tanker, between which 42 crewmembers were taken hostage.”
“Nigerian piracy is increasing in incidence and extending in range. At least six of the 11 reported incidents in Nigeria occurred at distances greater than 70 nautical miles from the coast, which suggests that fishing vessels are being used as mother ships to attack shipping further afield,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the IMB Piracy Reporting Center
In addition, the report noted that “two crew members were killed when armed pirates boarded their bulk carrier 110 nautical miles off Lagos, Nigeria. Attacks in Nigerian coastal waters have further resulted in at least three crew kidnapped from their anchored vessel.”
Despite the growing number of incidents in West Africa, Somalia continues to dominate figures “with 43 attacks, including the hijacking of nine vessels and the taking hostage of 144 crew. Somali pirates were also responsible for the hijacking of a Panamax bulk carrier at the end of March.”
The report also indicated that while the number of 2012 incidents and hijackings are “less than reports for the same period in 2011 (97 incidents, 16 hijackings), it is unlikely that the threat of Somali piracy will diminish in the short to medium term unless further actions are taken.”
The European Union Naval Force recently said it would expand its mission to include Somalia's coast and waterways - hunting for pirates inside the country for the first time, making its battle against piracy more proactive.
As of March 31, 2012, suspected Somali pirates still held 15 vessels with 253 crew members as hostages, with an additional 49 crew members being held hostage on land.
Africa isn’t the only area of the world’s oceans where piracy is a threat. The report pointed to a “noticeable increase in the number of armed robbery attacks in the Indonesian archipelago, up from five in the first quarter of 2011 to 18 in 2012."
The latest attacks may also be viewed on the IMB Live Piracy Map .