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World

Italian cruise ship returns fire to deter Somali pirates

Security forces on board an Italian cruise ship returned fire when pirates in a speedboat attacked. None of the ship’s 1,500 passengers and crew were injured and will continue on their scheduled route – with an escort.

War ship in a harbour

Naval forces in the area were too far away to come to the aid of the 'Melody'

The Melody was on its way from the Seychelles to Italy on Saturday evening when six men in a small speed boat approached the ship and opened fire. According to the ship’s captain, Ciro Pinto, the pirates attempted to board the ship by placing a ladder on the bow.

However security personal on board returned fire, “and when they saw we were shooting, they abandoned their effort and went away,” Pinto said. He reported light damage to the ship from bullets.

The Melody is owned by the Italian company MSC. According to a company spokeswoman, MSC has never had a problem with pirates in the past.

“We didn’t choose a dangerous route,” she said, adding that the company is shocked and the pirate attack will “surely have consequences for our future route planning.”

Armed security on board

Domenico Pellegrino, the managing director of MSC, said that Israeli security guards were on board.

"We use them because they are the best. And we have had a demonstration of that," said Pellegrino.

Talking to Germany's Der Spiegel newsmagazine, the spokesperson of the EU's anti-piracy mission Atalanta said that a mission vessel had been only 100 sea miles away but could not come in time to help.

He added that without the armed security personnel the cruise ship would have likely ended up in the hands of the pirates.

The Melody is scheduled to continue on to its final destination in Genoa, Italy under an international naval escort.

The attempt to hijack the cruise ship came only hours after Somali pirates seized a 31,000-ton German grain carrier earlier on Saturday.

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