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World in brief: Report says attacks by pirates increase

Pirate attacks worldwide jumped 14 percent in the first nine months of 2007, with the biggest increases off the poorly policed waters of Somalia and Nigeria, an international watchdog reported Tuesday.

Reported attacks in Somalia rose rapidly to 26, up from eight a year earlier, the London-based International Maritime Bureau said through its piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“The seafaring industry is very concerned about this,” said Cyrus Mody, a senior analyst with IMB. “There is absolutely no regard for law in that area. Not only is it not good for business in Africa, but it blocks humanitarian aid and is bad for the general stability of the continent.”

Somalia has had 16 years of violence and anarchy, and is now led by a government battling to establish authority even in the capital. Piracy off Somalia increased this year after Ethiopian forces backing Somali government troops ousted an Islamic militia in December.

Yangon, Myanmar

Junta arrested nearly 3,000

Myanmar’s military junta acknowledged Wednesday that it detained nearly 3,000 people during a crackdown on recent pro-democracy protests, with hundreds still in custody.

The official statement on the front-page of The New Light of Myanmar, a government mouthpiece, said authorities were still hunting for demonstrators who took part in the recent uprising.

“Those who led, got involved in and supported the unrest which broke out in September were called in and are being interrogated,” the junta said. “Some are still being called in for questioning and those who should be released will be.”

The statement said that 2,927 people had been arrested since the crackdown started and nearly 500 were still in custody. In its last tally, the junta said that nearly 2,100 had been detained.

Everyone released from custody was required to sign “pledges” the statement said, without elaborating.

The announcement came a day after Japan canceled a multimillion-dollar grant to protest the bloody crackdown.