Murder raises pirate perils

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The Independent Online
THE armed men (left) are Filipino pirates operating from high-speed outrigger canoes around the archipelago's southern islands. Their targets are cargo ships, which they board with lines from the stern, mainly at night. But they have been known to attack 'leisure craft' - unsuspecting yachts sailing between Australia and Hong Kong.

Last week's mysterious and violent death of an American couple and their two-man British crew on board the ketch Computacenter Challenger off Barbuda island in the Caribbean again put a question mark against the the safety of foreign yachts in tropical waters. The Caribbean, the equally island- studded waters around Indonesia and the Philippines, the West Africa coast and the Red Sea have all been marked over the past 20 years as places to sail warily.

However, maritime groups and international sailing clubs say that attacks against yachts on the high seas are relatively few and, if anything, falling. 'It's like being a tourist and going to Miami. If you're sensible you check first on what places are safe to visit and what places are suspect,' a spokeswoman for the Royal Yachting Association said. Brigadier Brian Parritt of International Maritime Security said that in most attacks nowadays the victims had stumbled across criminal activities.

In contrast, piracy against merchant vessels is rising.

(Photograph omitted)