INTERNATIONAL CRIME: “Dangerously Increasing” Pirate Activities Off West Africa

April 26, 2012 at 12:19 am Leave a comment

Nigerian Pirates Extending Range

Piracy is on the rise in the waters off west Africa – especially in an around Nigeria – according to statistics from the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Global Piracy Report.

U.S. Coast Guard and Navy personnel inspect a suspected pirate skiff in the Gulf of Aden in May 2010 as part of multinational counter piracy task force. (Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ja'lon A. Rhinehart)

While the number of incidents and ships seized by pirates is down for the 1st Quarter of 2012, compared to the first three months of 2011, the threat of Somali pirates operating in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden remains high, with attacks off Nigeria, Benin and other West African countries increasing, said the Kuala Lampur-based IMB.

Worldwide, there were 102 incidents of piracy or armed robbery at sea during January to March 2012, compared to 142 incidents for the same period last year. In 2012, 11 vessels were reported hijacked worldwide, with 212 crew members taken hostage and four slain. Additionally, 45 vessels were boarded with 32 attempted attacks and 14 vessels fired upon. Five locations were responsible for 70 percent of the 102 incidents: There were 28 incidents near Somalia, 18 near Indonesia, 10 in the waters near Nigeria, 8 in the Gulf of Aden and 7 in the Red Sea.

Nigerian piracy has been “increasing in incidence and extending in range,” says Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. The number of reported incidents is twice what it was for the same period last year. At least six of the Nigerian incidents occurred more than 70 nautical miles from the coast “which suggests that fishing vessels are being used as mother ships to attack shipping further afield,” Mukundan said.

But Somalia continues to dominate with 43 attacks including the hijacking of nine vessels and 144 crew members taken hostage. That’s down from 97 incidents and 16 hijackings in the 1st Quarter of 2011. The IMB report suggests actions by numerous navies off the Horn of Africa are responsible for the drop in incidents.

However “it is unlikely that the threat of Somali piracy will diminish in the short to medium term, unless further actions are taken,” the report concluded.

Here is a link to the IMB’s Live Piracy Incident Map.

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Entry filed under: Africa, International Crime, National Security and Defense, Special Operations. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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