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World

Maritime watchdog reports record number of pirate kidnappings in 2010

According to a report from the International Maritime Bureau, pirates hijacked 53 ships and kidnapped 1,181 people in 2010. The figures are the highest the maritime watchdog has ever seen.

German tanker Marida Marguerite

A record number of ships were targeted in 2010

A report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) says 2010 was a record year for pirate hijackings and kidnappings. The IMB said 1,181 crewmembers were kidnapped in 53 hijacking incidents. Eight sailors were also killed in attacks that are increasingly becoming armed.

"These figures for the number of hostages and vessels taken are the highest we have ever seen," said Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

The IMB has reported statistics on hijackings and kidnappings since 1991.

Finding new waters

Coastal areas off Somalia continue to be the most dangerous in the world for seafarers. The IMB said Somali pirates were responsible for 92 percent of all hijackings in 2010.

Three men arrested in a boat with their hands on their heads

Policing efforts have been effective in the Gulf of Aden

In the Gulf of Aden, the waters immediately off Somalia's coast, pirate attacks have actually gone down by about half. Instead, the pirates are moving further away from the coast to carry out their raids on ships.

Mukundan said that the increased range of the pirates is "unprecedented," but added that "the continued presence of international navies is vital in protecting merchant ships."

Germany is part of the European Union's Atalanta mission that polices the Gulf of Aden, which is an important trade route between Asia and Europe.

However, Mukundan said that much of the fight against pirates needed to be carried out on land.

"All measures taken at sea to limit the activities of the pirates are undermined because of a lack of responsible authority back in Somalia from where the pirates begin their voyages and return with hijacked vessels," he said.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AFP, dapd, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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