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11/2/2006

Bangladesh port world’s most dangerous but global piracy decreases, says watchdog

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands — admin @ 6:47 am

Bangladesh’s Chittagong port is the world’s most dangerous with more than 30 pirate attacks reported in the first nine months of this year, an international maritime watchdog said Wednesday.

However, the number of sea attacks worldwide decreased to 174 between January and September, compared to 205 in the same period last year, thanks to stricter law enforcement, the International Maritime Bureau said in its quarterly report.

Ships were boarded in 113 cases and 11 ships were hijacked, with six crew killed, 20 kidnapped and 163 taken hostage, the bureau said through its piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.

“Although the number of attacks overall have reduced, there is a worry that in some key hot spots the situation has deteriorated,” it said in the report.

“Bangladesh recorded 33 incidents — 22 actual and 11 attempted — most of which took place in and around the port of Chittagong, resulting in it being accorded the title of the world’s most dangerous port,” it said.

Bangladesh recently conducted a joint coast guard and navy operation involving 17 vessels and 3,000 troops to capture pirates in the Bay of Bengal, which led to the deaths of two pirates, the report said.

Overall, Indonesia remained the world’s No. 1 piracy hot spot with more attacks recorded in its waters than anywhere else in the world, the bureau said. Still, the number dropped to 40 in the January-September period compared to 61 attacks in 2005.

The report also singled out Nigeria where attacks were marked by violence with large number of pirates carrying guns and knives. Even though only nine cases — six actual and three attempted — were reported, it said 17 crew members had been kidnapped and held hostage for ransom.

The bureau said the attacks were “symptomatic of a large rise in the number of incidents against foreign oil workers” and political unrest in Nigeria.

The bureau welcomed British-based global shipping insurer Lloyd’s move in August to drop the busy Malacca Straits — which carries half the world’s oil and more than a third of its commerce — from its list of dangerous waterways.

Only eight cases were reported in the first nine months of this year, compared to 18 for the whole of 2005, but it urged ships to maintain a strict watch when transiting the straits.

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