By Steven Beardsley
Copyright 2014 Stars and Stripes
NAPLES, Italy — Incidents of maritime piracy have fallen to their lowest level in six years due to the sharp decline in attacks off the Somali coast, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday.
Vessels reported 264 attacks by sea pirates last year, down from 297 reports in 2012 and a 41 percent drop from 2011, when piracy near Somalia reached its peak, the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre said in its annual report.
Pirates last year hijacked 12 vessels and boarded 202, taking 304 hostages during the year and kidnapping 36 crewmembers to take back on shore, the piracy watchdog said. Most of the ships boarded were tankers carrying products such as fuel and oil.
Indonesia counted the most incidents, with 106, although most of these were simple robberies. The report said these should not be compared to the more serious hijacking and kidnappings seen elsewhere.
Nigerian-based pirates were singled out in the report for the growing violence seen in their attacks — the year’s sole death in piracy incidents came at the hands of Nigerian pirates who accounted for 31 attacks. They also kidnapped 36 crewmembers for ransom, the highest number seized by Nigerian pirates in the region since 2008, the report said.
Among the kidnap victims were two Americans, whose oil supply ship, the C-Retriever, was boarded and hijacked in late October. Both men were released weeks later after the payment of a ransom.