The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has released its first quarter 2015 report. A breakdown of the report showed that Africa ranks second on the global piracy ladder after South -East Asia.

The IMB says that attacks in South-East Asia were more than double those recorded off East and West Africa combined in the first quarter of 2015.

But it says that Africa recorded the second highest number of pirate attacks.

Africa accounted for 11 recorded cases, while South-East Asia had 30 recorded incidents.

In Africa,Nigeria accounted for the highest number of recorded incidents at seven, followed by Ghana with two incidents while Ivory Coast and Congo had one each.

In Nigeria, where seven attacks were recorded, the IMB says, ”Generally, all waters in Nigeria remain risky.

Pirates are often well armed, violent and have attacked, hijacked and robbed vessels and kidnapped crews along the coast, rivers, anchorages, ports and surrounding waters.

Attacks reported up to about 170nm from coast. In many incidents, pirates hijacked the vessels for several days and ransacked the vessels and stole part cargo usually gas oil.

The IMB Director, Mr. Pottengal Mukundan, in a statement said global piracy rose by 10 per cent in the first quarter of 2015 after a steady drop over the last few years.

Pirates reportedly took 140 hostages globally in the first three months of 2015, three times as many as during the same period in 2014.

Thirteen seafarers were also assaulted and three injured.

Mukundan said that in West Africa, a hotspot for violent piracy, one man was killed in the hijacking of a fishing vessel off Ghana. Five crew members were kidnapped by Nigerian pirates in two separate incidents, in addition to a small product tanker reportedly hijacked.

”The frequency of these hijackings in South-East Asia is an increasing cause for concern. There is a risk that the attacks and violence can increase if left unabated.”

According to the report, the IMB has recorded 23 ship hijackings in South-East Asia since April 2014, with six taking place in the last three months.

Most of them, it added, were carried out by armed gangs, targeting small coastal tankers to steal cargoes of fuel. Five tankers and an offshore tug were also hijacked in the first quarter.

Malaysian authorities have reportedly detained one gang of hijackers now awaiting trial.

The country with the highest number of attacks is Indonesia, accounting for almost 40 per cent of 2015 attacks so far, with two vessels hijacked and 19 vessels boarded.