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Fewer attacks by Somali pirates, but their net widens

There were fewer attacks by Somali pirates in the first quarter of this year than during the same time last year, but their reach is extending far beyond the Gulf of Aden.

This image shows the EU NAVFOR French warship FS Nivose with Somali pirate skiffs off the Somali coast on March 5.

EU NAVFOR/AP

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There have been fewer attacks by Somali pirates during the first quarter of this year than during the same time period last year, according to a report issued Wednesday by the London-based International Maritime Bureau.

Thirty-five of the 67 reported piracy incidents worldwide were conducted by Somali pirates, according to the report. The impressive drop from the 102 attacks reported during the first quarter of last year is due in large part to the efforts of the multinational naval force patrolling the Gulf of Aden.

That's the good news.

The bad news?

IN PICTURES: Somali pirates

The pirates' reach is extending far beyond the waters of the Gulf of Aden, as European and American naval patrols force Somali pirates to venture further afield for ships to hijack.

Consider this past week, where Somali pirates have gone on a hijacking spree, capturing three Thai ships far out in the Indian Ocean and a Liberian-owned cargo ship off the coast of Oman. The capture of the Thai ships set a new record, at 1,200 nautical miles from the Somali coast.

This week’s attacks underline a weakness in the increased militarization of the seas, showing that naval patrols alone won’t stop piracy.

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