Somalia and Nigeria are biggest piracy hotspots

MORE than one-third of the piracy incidents reported worldwide in the first six months of this year took place in Somalia and Nigeria.

Out of the 114 piracy attacks reported to the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre in the first half of 2008, 24 were off the coast of Somalia and 18 offshore Nigeria.

The failed state of Somalia remained the global black spot with a spate of violent hijackings pushing out well into the main sea lane in the Gulf of Aden. Of the 24 actual and attempted Somalia attacks, 19 were in the Gulf of Aden.

“In the Gulf of Aden at least eight vessels reported being fired upon by pirates armed with rocket propelled grenade launchers and automatic weapons,” the IMB said.

In Nigeria there were 18 attacks largely centred on the port of Lagos.

“Lagos is becoming an increasingly dangerous port, with the number of reported attacks in the area growing from 8 in the first six months of 2007 to 12 for the corresponding period in 2008,” it said.

According to the IMB, in the first six months of 2008, 71 vessels were boarded, 12 vessels were hijacked and 11 vessels were fired upon. A total of 190 crew members were taken hostage, six kidnapped, seven killed and another seven are missing and presumed dead.

“The frequency and level of violence directed at seafarers is cause for alarm. The abduction of crew and the increasing use of automatic weapons remains unacceptable,” said Potengal Mukundan, director of the IMB.