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Piracy Off Somali Coast Drops Significantly, But Attacks Ratchet Up in West Africa, Off Indonesia

Pirate attacks off the Somali coast have declined by more than 54 percent, leading to a softening of insurance premiums for the global shipping community but raising controversy surrounding the use of onboard private armed security contractors, according to the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre.

According to IMB September 2012 figures, global attacks on commercial and private vessels stood at 225 incidents year-to-date with 70 recorded attacks off the Somali coast. Eleven ships were seized and 188 hostages are being held for ransom. In the first six months of 2012, IMB recorded a 54-percent drop in pirate activity against 2011, with 177 incidents reported against 266 in the same period last year, supported by additional data released by the United States Navy.

While moves to thwart piracy activity in the Gulf of Aden appear to be paying off, the IMB says that Somali piracy in the Indian Ocean gives serious ongoing cause for concern, as well as noting a shift in geographical focus from East to West Africa. Increased attacks are also being reported in the Gulf Of Guinea, Nigeria and Togo, as well as further afield in Indonesian waters.

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