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Number of Somali piracy attacks this year surpasses whole of 2008

Kuala Lumpur: Piracy attacks off the Somali coast since January have surpassed the number for all of 2008, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

The Piracy Reporting Center at IMB recorded 111 piracy incidents in 2008 in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast. So far this year, the center has documented 114 attempted attacks, including 29 successful hijackings, the IMB reported.

"The level of attempted attacks ... shows that the pirate gangs have not been perturbed by this presence (of international naval vessels) and, if anything, have stepped up operations in order to secure a higher success rate," Pottengal Mukundan, IMB director, said in a statement.

Nevertheless, pirate attacks off Somalia are becoming less successful thanks to international policing efforts, but there is no immediate end in sight to "the scourge", NATO and EU officials said Wednesday.

"We have seen a substantial reduction of success rate in pirates's attacks," said British Vice-Admiral Philip Jones, operational commander of the European naval force Atalanta battling the high-seas criminals who hijack ships for ransom. [14/05/09]

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