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Masked Somali pirate 'Hassan' stands near a Taiwanese fishing vessel in this September 2012 file photo Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP/Press Association Images

Clampdown on Somali pirates leads to 40 per cent drop in incidents worldwide

15 incidents were attributed to Somali pirates last year — down from 237 in 2011.

PIRACY AT SEA reached its lowest levels in six years in 2013, with 264 attacks recorded worldwide — a 40 per cent drop since Somali piracy peaked in 2011. The figures were confirmed today by the International Maritime Bureau.

The body’s annual global piracy report showed more than 300 people were taken hostage at sea last year. Of that number 21 were injured — nearly all with guns or knives.

A total of 12 vessels were hijacked, 202 were boarded, 22 were fired upon and a further 28 reported attempted attacks. Nigerian pirates were particularly violent, killing one crew-member, and kidnapping 36 people to hold onshore for ransom.

“The single biggest reason for the drop in worldwide piracy is the decrease in Somali piracy off the coast of East Africa,” said IMB director Captain Pottengal Mukundan.

He said Somali pirates had been deterred by a combination of factors, including the efforts of international navies, the use of private armed security teams, and the stabilising influence of Somalia’s central government.

“It is imperative to continue combined international efforts to tackle Somali piracy. Any complacency at this stage could re-kindle pirate activity,” Mukundan warned.

The 15 incidents attributed to Somali pirates in 2013 include the hijacking of two vessels, both of which were released within a day as a result of naval actions. A further eight vessels were fired upon. The figures are the lowest since 2006, when 10 Somali attacks were recorded.

237 pirate attacks took place off Somalia in 2011, but the figure dropped to 75 the following years as the clampdown got under way.

imageCaptain Richard Phillips spent five days as a hostage of Somali pirates in 2009. His story was adapted into the Tom Hanks movie ‘Captain Phillips’. [Toby Talbot/AP/Press Association Images]

West African piracy made up 19 per cent of attacks worldwide last year. Nigerian pirates and armed robbers accounted for 31 of the region’s 51 attacks, taking 49 people hostage and kidnapping 36 — more than in any year since 2008.

Pirates from Nigeria ventured far from their bases — into waters off Gabon, Ivory Coast and Togo, where they were linked with at least five of the region’s seven reported vessel hijackings.

Malaysian waters saw the hijacking of two product tankers with 27 crew taken hostage, resulting in the theft of ships’ property and cargo.

The IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre has monitored worldwide piracy since 1991.

Read: Britney Spears’ music is being used to scare away Somali pirates

Read: Two Americans kidnapped by pirates off Nigerian coast

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