Italy Cruise Ship Fires on Somali Pirates
Posted on Sunday, April 26, 2009 5:03:38 AM by Jonny foreigner
ROME — An Italian cruise ship fended off a pirate attack off the coast of Somalia, with its security forces exchanging fire with the bandits, the commander said Saturday.
Cmdr. Ciro Pinto told Italian state radio that six men in a small white boat approached the Msc Melody and opened fire Saturday night, but retreated after security forces aboard the cruise ship returned fire.
Domenico Pellegrino, head of the ship-owner Msc Cruises, told ANSA news agency that all 1,500 passengers and crew aboard the Melody were safe, and credited Pinto for his "cool-headed" handling of the incident.
The attack occurred about 180 miles north of the Seychelles. The ship was on a 22-day cruise from Durban, South Africa, to Genoa, Italy.
ANSA said the ship was now headed as scheduled to the Jordanian port of Aqaba.
Pirates have attacked more than 100 ships off the Somali coast over the last year, reaping an estimated $1 million in ransom for each successful hijacking, according to analysts and country experts.
Another Italian-owned vessel remains in the hands of pirates. The Italian-flagged tugboat Buccaneer was seized off Somalia on April 11 with 16 crew members aboard.