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Italy ship thwarts pirate attack, BBC News, 2009-04-26 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joachim Willms [Managing Director]   
BBC News [Source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8019084.stm]

"Italy ship thwarts pirate attack

Melody cruise ship. File photo
Some 1,500 passengers and crew were aboard the Melody ship

An Italian cruise ship has fended off a pirate attack off the coast of Somalia, the vessel's captain has said.

Ciro Pitno said six pirates in a speedboat approached his Melody ship and opened fire, but were forced to flee after security men fired back. He said no-one was hurt in the incident late on Saturday. Some 1,500 passengers and crew were on board. Pirates have recently intensified attacks on shipping in the region, despite patrols by the foreign navies.

Last year, pirates attacked more than 100 ships in the region, demanding huge ransom for their release. Capt Pinto said the pirates tried to hijack his ship about 290km (180 miles) north of the Seychelles.

The head of the Italy's MSC Cruises, which owns the Meloday, credited the captain for his "cool-headed" handling of the incident, Italy's Ansa news agency reported. The ship was on a cruise from South Africa to Italy. It was now headed as scheduled for the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

Somali pirates have hijacked about a dozen ships since the start of April, despite the presence of around 20 foreign naval vessels in the area.International warships have been patrolling the waters off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden in recent months as part of an effort to counter piracy. They have freed a number of ships, but attacks have continued. Somalia has been without an effective administration since 1991, fuelling the lawlessness which has allowed piracy to thrive. Shipping companies last year handed over about $80m (54m) in ransom payments to the gangs.


 
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