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Pirates kept at bay as attacks halve

Sea piracy fell 54 per cent worldwide in the first half of 2012, led by a dramatic drop in Somali piracy, an international maritime watchdog said yesterday.

The International Maritime Bureau attributed the drop to anti-piracy operations in seas off Somalia as well as increased vigilance by ships, including the hiring of private armed guards on board.

The bureau said 177 attacks were reported worldwide from January to June, down from 266 in the same period last year. It said 20 vessels were hijacked, with 334 crew members taken hostage and at least four crew members killed.

But the bureau said Somali pirates remain a serious threat, with 11 vessels and 218 crew members still in their hands as of late June.