| KUALA LUMPUR
KUALA LUMPUR Pirate attacks around the world surged 38.5 percent in 2009 with suspected Somali pirates accounting for more than half of the 406 reported incidents, an international maritime body said Thursday.
According to the Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau, Somali pirates ventured further out to sea last year to capture dozens of ships, take hundreds of hostages and collect millions of dollars in ransom.
"Pirates are now more desperate to hijack ships. Recent attacks, at distances of over 1,000 nautical miles from Mogadishu, indicate the capability of the Somali pirates," the bureau's annual report said.
In the Gulf of Aden alone, 116 actual and attempted attacks took place, compared with 92 in 2008. Bulk carriers were targeted most often and ten crew have been injured, four killed and one is missing.
In all, Somali pirates were held responsible for 217 acts of piracy in 2009.
"As of Dec 31, suspected Somali pirates held 12 vessels for ransom with 263 crew-members of various nationalities as hostages," the report said.
Authorities have been unable to deal with the pirates due to the lawless situation in Somalia although U.S. courts are now handling the case of a Somali teen-ager who was extradited to New York last year on charges of attempting to hijack a U.S. ship.
(Reporting by Royce Cheah; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)