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Mission to Seafarers reports decline in piracy, but rise in crew kidnappings

03 March 2017

REUTERS

Protection: members of the Philippines Coast Guard escort MV Giang Hai, a Vietnamese vessel, which has been attacked by pirates, on Tuesday of last week. Piracy declined in 2016, but kidnaps increased

Protection: members of the Philippines Coast Guard escort MV Giang Hai, a Vietnamese vessel, which has been attacked by pirates, on Tuesday of last we...

KIDNAPPINGS of sailors by pir­ates have soared, the Mission to Seafarers has said. Three times as many people were captured and held ransom in 2016 than in the previous year.

Sixty-two seafarers were kid­napped in 15 separate incidents of piracy in 2016, the Mission said, quot­­ing figures published by the ICC International Maritime Bureau, a department of the Inter­national Chamber of Commerce.

Half of those snatched were taken from the seas off West Africa, with a further 28 being taken while sailing near Malaysia and Indonesia.

Despite the spike in kidnappings, however, piracy seems to be declin­ing overall. There were 191 in­­cid­ents of piracy in 2016, compared with 246 in 2015.

Pottengal Mukundan, director of the ICC International Maritime Bureau, said: “The continued fall in piracy is good news, but certain shipping routes remain dangerous, and the escalation of crew kidnap­ping is a worrying trend in some emerging areas.”

One of those kidnapped in the waters surrounding Malaysia in 2016 was Juergen Kantner, who was captured by Islamist terrorist group Abu Sayyaf from his yacht in November. After the deadline for a ransom of £483,000 passed without payment on Sunday, a video was released online showing militants beheading him. Mr Kantner’s part­ner, Sabine Merz, died during the raid on their yacht in November.

Abu Sayyaf, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, seeks to establish an independent Islamic state in the region.

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