Pirates hijacked a record number of ships and crew in 2010, most of them off Somalia, the International Maritime Bureau reported. A total of 53 vessels were captured, with 1,181 crew members taken hostage and eight killed, the London-based unit of the International Chamber of Commerce said in an e-mailed report. That's up from 188 people seized in 2006, the IMB said.
"These figures for the number of hostages and vessels taken are the highest we have ever seen," Captain Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre, which has monitored piracy since 1991, said in the report. "The continued increase in these numbers is alarming", according to BusinessWeek.
The naval patrols have foiled many attacks, but pirates are moving farther offshore to boost their success in hijackings, the piracy reporting center said.
"All measures taken at sea to limit the activities of the pirates are undermined because of a lack of responsible authority back in Somalia," it said in its statement.
Overall, there were 445 pirate attacks worldwide last year, a 10 percent rise from 2009, the center said. Eight crew members died - all attributed to Somali pirates. Violent attacks and armed robberies were also notable in Indonesian waters, where 30 vessels were boarded. Bangladesh had 21 vessels boarded, mainly by attackers armed with knives at the port of Chittagong, while Nigeria had 13, mostly near the port of Lagos, The Associated Press says.