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International Maritime Bureau calls for vigilance against pirates in Somalia

By Tajuddin
Feb 2nd, 2016
Somali pirates

Somali pirates

Nairobi, Kenya (Xinhua + DIPLOMAT.SO) – The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has called on foreign vessels to remain vigilant off the coast of Somalia despite no Somali-based attacks being reported in 2015.

The maritime body in its annual report for 2015 warned vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean to stay particularly vigilant.

“Somalia remains a fragile state, and the potential for an attack remains high. It will only take one successful hijacking to undo all that has been done, and rekindle this criminal activity,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, which has monitored world piracy since 1991.

The report says the threat of these attacks still exist in waters off Southern Red Sea/Bab el Mandeb, Gulf of Aden including Temin and the northern Somali coast, Arabian sea/off Oman, Gulf of Oman and off the eastern and southern Somali coast.

In the past, vessels have been attacked off Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mozambique as well as in the Indian Ocean and off the west and south coasts of India and west Maldives.

“Masters are reminded that fishermen in this region may try to protect their nets by attempting to aggressively approach merchant vessels. Some of the fishermen may be armed to protect their catch and they should not be confused with pirates,” IMB said.

Experts say piracy off the coast of Somalia has been curtailed over the last four years due to effective deterrence by international naval forces, privately armed security guards on board merchant ships, and mariners avoiding the high-risk area along the Somali coast.

The drop in piracy incidents had been a relief to shipping companies using the Indian Ocean that have been target of pirates often paying heavy ransom to secure release of their vehicles and the crew.

Kenya expects more shipping lines to use the port of Mombasa and in return expand regional trade in Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Congo, with the diffused threat of piracy following the deployment of Kenya Defence Force (KDF) soldiers in southern Somalia

According to the report, Nigeria is a hotspot for violent piracy and armed robbery. Though many attacks are believed to go unrecorded, IMB received reports of 14 incidents, with nine vessels boarded.

In the first of these, ten pirates armed with AK47 rifles boarded and hijacked a tanker and took all nine crewmembers hostage.

They then transferred the fuel oil cargo into another vessel, which was taken away by two of the attackers. The Ghanaian navy dispatched a naval vessel to investigate as the tanker moved into its waters, then arrested the pirates on board.

Globally, the report says piracy and armed robbery on the world’s seas is persisting at levels close to those in 2014, despite reductions in the number of ships hijacked and crew captured.

IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) recorded 246 incidents in 2015, one more than in 2014. The number of vessels boarded rose 11 percent to 203, one ship was fired at, and a further 27 attacks were thwarted.

A total of 15 vessels were hijacked in 2015, down from 21 in 2014, while 271 hostages were held on their ships, compared with 442 in 2014.

No hijackings were reported in the last quarter of 2015. IMB says one key factor in this recent global reduction was the drop in attacks against small fuel tankers around South East Asia’s coasts, the last of which occurred in August 2015.

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