NATO task force frees Italian ship seized by pirates

October 12th, 2011 - 12:45 am ICT by IANS  

Rome, Oct 11 (IANS) The Italian ship seized by a group of Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden was freed on Tuesday in a blitz action carried out by a NATO task force, according to an Italian foreign ministry statement. Six of the ship’s 23 crew members were Indians.

The operation forced the 11 armed pirates on board to surrender, liberating the 23 crew members of the “Montecristo”, reported Xinhua.

The pirates have been arrested by NATO task force conducting the anti-piracy operation dubbed Ocean Shield mission, and all crew members are in good health condition, the foreign ministry said.

The Italian government is satisfied with the “brilliant operation and the successful cooperation between different institutional actors”, and also happy with the fact the owner of the ship and crew members’ families finally ended their nightmare, the statement said.

The Montecristo, heading from the Suez Canal towards Vietnam Monday, was captured some 620 km off the Somali coast when it had just been escorted there by another Japanese boat into the Gulf of Aden.

According to the Italy-based firm Dalmare Spa, which manages the ship, the vessel was carrying a consignment of iron materials.

“The Vessel was hijacked on Oct. 10 in the Gulf of Aden or further to the east at about 0700, no communications after that. Crew are 23, 7 Italians, 10 Ukrainians, 6 Indians,” Dalmare said in a statement posted on the firm’s website.

There are other two Italian ships currently still in the hands of pirates.

In a bid to boost safety on board Italian vessels, Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa Tuesday signed an agreement with the confederation of Italian ship owners to put military guards on all ships heading towards areas at risk of pirate attacks.

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