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Italian cruise ship thwarts attack by Somali pirates

Sunday, April 26, 2009

An attempted hijacking of an Italian cruise ship carrying 1,500 passengers by Somali pirates was thwarted on Sunday by the vessel's security guards. Nobody was injured. The incident occurred about 290 kilometres north of Victoria, the Seychelles.

According to the captain of the ship, Ciro Pinto, six pirates in a speedboat approached the ship and started shooting, but were forced to flee after security started firing pistols and spraying water from hoses at them.

"One white small boat with six people on board approached the port side of the ship and started shooting," Pinto said, saying that two hundred rounds were shot. He continued that "our security started shooting in the air [...] and also we started spraying some water" in an effort to stop the pirates.

Witness reports say that there were many passengers on the ship's deck when the incident happened, and some of them threw chairs at the attacking pirates.

The ship, which is named the Melody, is owned by the Italian MSC Cruises company. It had departed from South Africa and was en route to Italy.

Piracy is rampant in the waters off the eastern coast of Africa and the Gulf of Aden. Since the start of this month, pirates have attacked approximately a dozen ships, despite the presence of about a score of naval warships patrolling the vicinity.


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