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World sea piracy drops in 2011, Somali attacks up

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Sea piracy worldwide dropped slightly in 2011 for the first time in five years but Somali pirates have intensified attacks and remained the greatest threat, a global maritime watchdog said Thursday.

The number of attacks dipped to 439 last year from 445 cases in 2010, the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur said in a report.

There were 45 vessels hijacked and 802 crew members taken hostage, as compared with 53 ships seized and 1,181 people taken hostage in 2010.

The agency attributed the decline to international naval patrols and increases in private security personnel aboard ships.

Somali pirates accounted for 54 percent of the global attacks with 237 cases, up from 219 in 2010, it said.

The IMB said Somali pirates for the first time hijacked a vessel at anchorage in Oman, indicating they were desperate. This highlighted the need for ports and vessels at anchorages in the region to be vigilant, it said.

“The role of the navies is critical to the anti-piracy efforts in this area,” said IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan.

Lawless Somalia’s long coastline snakes around the Horn of Africa and provides the perfect base for pirate dens. The country has not had a functioning government since a socialist dictatorship collapsed in 1991, plunging the nation into clan-based civil war.


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