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UN: Somali Pirates Now Focus on Smaller Vessels

FILE - A masked Somali pirate stands near a Taiwanese fishing vessel that washed up on shore after the pirates were paid a ransom and released the crew, in the once-bustling pirate den of Hobyo, Somalia, Sept. 23, 2012.

It has been almost three years since Somali pirates successfully hijacked a large commercial vessel but they retain the capacity and intent to resume the attacks and have lately shifted to targeting smaller foreign fishing boats, according to U.N. report.

The report, seen by The Associated Press on Wednesday, says that as of August 2016 there were no seafarers from large commercial vessels held by Somali pirates but 39 hostages from foreign fishing boats remained in captivity.

The report also found that while reported piracy incidents increased slightly to 15 in the roughly year long period that ended in October 2016, up from 12 in the previous period, the numbers were sharply lower than the 237 pirate attacks reported when piracy was at its peak in 2011.

"We ask member states and international organizations for continued support to address the root causes of piracy," Somalia's chargé d'affaires Mohamed Rabi A. Yusuf told the security council during a meeting to discuss the issue.

Yusuf reminded diplomats that the secretary-general's report notes "the drivers that have triggered piracy since 2005 remain unchanged, among them a lack of economic opportunity."

In a resolution approved Thursday afternoon, the council called on Somali authorities to bring the pirates to justice and on member states to help strengthen the country's maritime capacity and cooperate in the fight against piracy.