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Driven by Somalia, piracy attacks double this year

PIRACY attacks worldwide more than doubled to 240 in the first half of 2009, driven by a rise in waters off Somalia, the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre said in a report today.

There were 114 attacks in the first six months of 2008, the centre said.

A lull in attacks in June due to the monsoon season was broken last week when Somali pirates made four attacks in four days in the Gulf of Aden.

"The attackers were heavily armed with guns and knives in the majority of incidents. Violence against crew members continues to increase," the report said.

It also warned of rising attacks off the coast of Nigeria, where 13 incidents were reported in the second quarter and where 24 were not directly reported to the body.

"There is a need for every incident to be reported and brought to the attention of the Nigerian authorities. This is the only way in which the true risk associated to the area can be determined and accurate advice be given to shipmasters, owners and traders," said bureau director Pottengal Mukundan.

It also warned of "a clear indication that piracy and robbery in Southeast and East Asia have the potential to escalate" after attacks in the region hit 21 in the second quarter, up from 10 in the first.


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