No S. Korean damage in H1 from Somali pirates

SEOUL, Aug. 21 (Yonhap) -- No piracy activities against South Korean ships in waters off Somalia were reported in the first half of 2013, the government said Wednesday, apparently due to an international crackdown to tackle piracy.

The number of piracy cases in waters off the coast of Somalia came to eight in the January-June period, falling sharply from 69 a year earlier, with none of them targeting local ships, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.

The decline came in line with an international effort to deter hijacking by pirates in waters near Somalia, including dispatching some 42 naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden by 18 countries, and allowing armed security to board ships passing such waters.

Meanwhile, piracy activities at the coast of western Africa have increased over the cited period, raising the necessity to continue tightening surveillance and prepare precautionary measures.

The ministry said it is making efforts to tackle piracy by providing guidelines to local ships and implementing a 24-hour surveillance system.

It added it is also urging the International Maritime Organization to take international action against piracy at the western Africa.

South Korea has deployed a destroyer with some 300 special Navy troops since early 2009 in the Gulf of Aden to patrol pirate-infested waters off the African nation under a U.S.-led multinational campaign.

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