IMB: Pirate attacks at two-decade low

In over two decades last year, pirate attacks worldwide fell to their lowest level, however, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) mentioned that more than doubled in the Philippines while African trouble spots.

It was recorded last year in the bureau’s annual report,  a total of 180 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against vessels, the lowest number since 1995 and down from 191 in 2016.

Countries such as Indonesia, the world’s biggest archipelago nation saw a decreasing number of incidents with 43 attacks in the waters last year, down more than half in the past two years.

Nevertheless, a handful of countries witnessed a steady climb in pirate attacks.

At least twenty-two incidents were recorded in the Philippines, a jump from 10 in 2016, with most of them low-level attacks on vessels anchored at Manila and Batangas, south of the capital, the country’s two busiest ports.

The IMB stated that there were also kidnappings of crew in the southern Philippines. Islamic militants have been increasingly targeting seafarers in the strife-torn region by abducting them and demanding ransoms for their release.

As for Bangladesh, the number of pirate attacks jumped three-fold to 11 in 2017 with most in Chittagong, which is the country’s busiest port.

The Gulf of Guinea off the west coast of Africa remained as an attack hotspot in 2017. With the attack news that is reported from around the world, 7 out of 16 incidents occurred in the gulf.

Based on the Kuala Lumpur-based IMB’s report that was released on Wednesday, there were at least 10 incidents of kidnapping that involve 65 crew members in or around waters off Nigeria, which lies next to the Gulf of Guinea.

Waters off Somalia remained dangerous and cautious, with nine incidents recorded last year up from two in 2016.

A dramatic attack on a container ship far off the Somali coast saw pirates firing rockets at the vessel after a failed attempt to board it.

Pottengal Mukundan, the IMB director stated: “This dramatic incident, demonstrates that Somali pirates retain the capability and intent to launch attacks against merchant vessels hundreds of miles from their coastline.”