London - West Africa has overtaken Somalia as the world's
piracy hot-spot with 966 sailors attacked last year, a report by the
International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said on Tuesday.
"The year 2012 marked the first time since the surge in
piracy off the coast of Somalia that the reported number of both ships and seafarers
attacked in the Gulf of Guinea surpassed that of the Gulf of Aden and of the
western Indian Ocean," the report said.
Of the 206 hostages taken last year off West Africa, five
were killed, the document said.
Despite the rising danger, the report stressed that the area
"has not received the attention that was brought to Somalia", where
851 sailors were attacked last year.
The Gulf of Guinea, which includes waters off Nigeria,
Africa's largest oil producer, has emerged as a new danger-zone with pirates
typically targeting fuel cargo and loading it onto other ships to sell on the
lucrative black market, rather than seeking ransom to release ships, the IMB
"In Nigeria, money moves quite quickly, unlike in
Somalia," explained one contributor to the report document.
"In Somalia, it would take months. In Nigeria, the
pirates take our [oil] cargo and the money of the [shipping] company. It would
take only weeks, it is quite fast."
A French-flagged tanker was released on Monday after it was
captured four days ago in the piracy-plagued waters off West Africa.
The report said that "co-operation between efforts at
sea and those on land to build maritime security and provide job opportunities
to potential pirates" was essential to reduce piracy levels in Somalia and