The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported a 20% increase in violent attacks on ships in 2003. In the 445 cases, 21 seafarers were killed, 71 missing, 88 injured and 359 taken as hostages.

While some pirates still go after the cargo - very disturbingly often oil tankers - revolutionary and terrorist groups constitute a growing portion of the pirates. Al-Qaida is linked to at least two cases.

The most dangerous waters are the Indonesian. Bangladesh comes in second and Nigeria third. However, some countries have begun "vigilant patrols" - Somalia has reduced piracy by as much as 50%.