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Piracy Drops Worldwide, Especially in Somalia

The Chinese Navy frigate Huangshan leaves Valletta's Grand Harbour March 30, 2013, after concluding an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden, providing security escort to civilian and commercial vessels.
The number of pirate attacks is down worldwide, especially off Somalia, where pirates once hijacked dozens of ships each year, according to a new report.

The International Maritime Bureau says there were 66 reported pirate incidents in the first quarter of 2013; that's a drop of 55 percent compared to a year earlier.

According to the report, Somali pirates carried out only five reported attacks during the quarter and just one hijacking. In that case, naval forces freed the ship's crew before the vessel reached Somalia.

Somali pirate attacks are down because of international naval patrols and better security measures by ships, including the use of armed guards, said IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan .

In the past, pirate gangs have demanded between $5 million and $10 million to free hijacked ships and their crews.

The Gulf of Guinea, off West Africa, has emerged as an area of concern, with 15 reported pirate attacks during the quarter, according to the report.

The majority of incidents took place off Nigeria. The attacks included three hijackings, including two tankers taken off Ivory Coast.

Another 26 attacks were recorded in Indonesia, most of which were "low-level thefts" of ships anchored at port.