Naval Watchdog Says Pirates Moving Their Focus
This map shows all the piracy and armed robbery incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre during 2009.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – This past week a maritime watchdog warned seafarers that Somali pirates were targeting ships at the southern end of the Red Sea and off Oman due bad weather off Somalia to the absence of naval warships.
“The two new areas are at Bab al Mandab, southern Red Sea, and the Arabian Sea, off Oman,” said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.
Choong said the IMB had recorded eight attacks in the past two weeks in the two areas, adding that pirates were staging raids under the cover of darkness.
“Pirates are expanding their attacks from the Gulf of Aden. Bad weather conditions in the east coast of Somalia due to the southwest monsoon are pushing them to launch attacks in the two new areas,” he said.
Choong also said the international flotilla of warships was concentrated in the Gulf of Aden, forcing pirates to expand their attack areas to ensure successful hijackings.
The world’s naval powers have deployed dozens of warships to the lawless waters off Somalia over the past year to curb attacks by pirates threatening one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes.
At the last count, 14 ships were still being held by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, together with more than 200 seamen, almost a quarter of them Filipinos.