Published: May 13, 2009 at 4:53 PM
LONDON, May 13 (UPI) -- Piracy attacks off the Somali coast since January have surpassed the number for all of 2008, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
The Piracy Reporting Center at IMB recorded 111 piracy incidents in 2008 in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast. So far this year, the center has documented 114 attempted attacks, including 29 successful hijackings, the IMB reported.
The growing threat of piracy off the coast of Somalia has gained international attention because of the slowing of international commerce through Egypt's vital Suez Canal and the millions of dollars paid in ransom.
Several international organizations, including the International Crisis Group, have warned the escalation stems from Somalia's failed state and that piracy will continue if the problem's root causes are not addressed.
"The level of attempted attacks … shows that the pirate gangs have not been perturbed by this presence (of international naval vessels) and, if anything, have stepped up operations in order to secure a higher success rate," Pottengal Mukundan, IMB director, said in a statement.