Thursday, January 10, 2008
Cases of piracy worldwide increased by 10 per cent last year, according to the International Maritime Bureau in a report released Wednesday. Four incidents were reported at the port of Mombasa. According to the bureau 263 attacks on ships were recorded in 2007 compared to 239 in 2006. In two of the four reported cases in Kenya, the pirates attempted to board ships while in the others, they got in. The report shows the piracy incidents at Mombasa port took place on anchored ships and those steaming. The annual piracy report, which is based on statistics compiled by the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, indicates that 18 vessels were hijacked last year compared to 14 in 2006 and 292 crew members were taken hostage against 188 in 2006. The survey says 63 crew members were kidnapped, five killed and three reported missing. The pirates were armed with sophisticated weapons and showed no hesitation in assaulting and injuring ship crew.“Guns were used in 72 incidents, an increase of 35 per cent over the past year. The total number of crew assaulted and injured is 64 compared to 17 in 2006. Majority of these incidents have occurred off the Somali coastline,” the report adds. The IMB director, Capt Pottengal Mukundan, said more cases were reported in Nigeria and Somalia. “These two countries account for 42 and 31 of the 2007 figures respectively compared with 12 and 10 attacks in 2006,” he said. Capt Mukundan said Somalia had seen the highest hostages taken at 154 in 11 hijackings. “The recent intervention of the international community and the coalition naval forces may prove to be the only way forward in controlling the pirates who have operated with impunity in these waters until recently,” he added. He praised the role played by the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre to combat the piracy and asked ship masters to report cases of piracy wherever and whenever they occurred.