Pirate Attacks off Somalia Hit Record High

Posted July 14th, 2011 at 9:20 am (UTC-5)
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A maritime watchdog says the number of pirate attacks off Somalia's coast rose to a record high during the first half of this year.

The London-based International Maritime Bureau says the raids have also grown increasingly bold and violent.

In a report released Thursday, the group said piracy worldwide jumped 36 percent the first half of this year. The number of attacks during that period was 266, compared to 196 last year.

The global watchdog's director, Pottengal Mukundan, says Somali pirates are also taking higher risks. The group says for the first time, pirates tried to seize a ship during the monsoon season in the Indian Ocean.

Representatives from more than 70 countries, including the United States, are set to meet in New York on Thursday to address the piracy problem off Somalia.

The Contact Group is exploring ways to prevent the raids, which it says are threatening commerce and humanitarian aid deliveries in one of the world's busiest shipping corridors.

Somali pirates continue to terrorize shipping in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Seas despite international naval patrols.

The pirates have hijacked dozens of ships and made hundreds of millions of dollars from ransom payments in the past few years.