| MUSCAT, July 21
MUSCAT, July 21 The threat from Somali pirates
is receding but the international community must continue to
work together to eliminate the menace, a NATO official said on
"We are getting more successful in reducing the Somali
piracy threats with our constant patrolling but the
international community must continue to exchange ideas and
increase efforts to completely eradicate the problem," Commodore
Ben Bekkering, NATO's counter-piracy commander, said at a news
conference on Dutch war vessel HNLMS Evertsen in Muscat.
According to the International Maritime Bureau, there were
69 hijacking incidents by Somali pirates from Jan. 1 to July 12
this year, a drop of 32 percent compared to the same period in
"We are happy to say that Oman's navy is cooperating and
helping us to find the hijackers but it is like looking for a
needle in a haystack," Bekkering said.
Pirate gangs can stay out at sea for long periods using
captured merchant vessels as mother ships and have been using
Yemen's remote island of Socotra as a refueling hub.
Oman lies at the mouth of the Gulf, a strategic, heavily
patrolled waterway which channels the bulk of the world's crude
"The Somali piracy crisis is costing world trade billions of
dollars a year. It is important we all work together to stop
it," Bekkering said.
NATO said earlier that increased use of armed security
guards, and other defences like water cannon and razor wire are
also helping reduce the number of successful attacks on merchant
(Editing by Andrew Roche)