The number of attacks by Somali pirates on vessels from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean declined in the first half of the year to 69 from 163 during the same period in 2011, the International Maritime Bureau reported Monday.
The organization, part of the International Chamber of Commerce, said a big reason for the number of failed attempted hijackings is the strong international naval presence in the region. It also said the use of armed private security forces riding on commercial vessels contributed to the reduction in incidents.
As of June 30, Somali pirates still held 11 vessels and 218 crew, 44 of whom are being held ashore in unknown locations.
Worldwide, there were 177 incidents versus 266 in the first six months of last year. Pirates successfully captured 20 vessels and took 334 crew members hostage. Another 80 vessels were boarded, 25 were fired upon and 52 reported attempted attacks. At least four crew members were killed, the IMB said.
The Gulf of Guinea is becoming a pirate hot spot with 32 incidents, including five hijackings, reported so far this year versus 25 a year ago. In Nigeria alone, there were 17 reports, compared to six. Pirates in West Africa are reportedly using high levels of violence against seamen.