Hostages Still Held

Somali pirates are still holding 11 foreign vessels for ransom with 167 crew members as hostages as of September 30 even as the number of ships signalling attacks by Somali pirates has fallen to its lowest since 2009, a global maritime organisation said on Monday.

A report from the International Chamber of Commerce, International Maritime Bureau (IMB) released Monday said 21 kidnapped crew members are being held on land and more than 20 hostages have now been held for over 30 months, reported Xinhua.

“It’s good news that hijackings are down, but there can be no room for complacency: these waters are still extremely high-risk and the naval presence must be maintained,” said IMB director, Captain Pottengal Mukundan, in a statement sent to Xinhua.

Demanding millions of dollars in ransom for captured ships and their crews, Somali pirates had late last year intensified operations not just off their own coastline, but further afield in the Red Sea, particularly during the monsoon season in the wider Indian Ocean.

Tankers carrying Middle East oil through the Suez Canal must pass first through the Gulf of Aden. According to maritime officials, about four percent of the world’s daily oil supply is shipped through the gulf.

The attacks are being carried out by increasingly well-coordinated Somali gangs armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, maritime officials said.

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Article courtesy of India Today.

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