Pirates attack Italian ship with 1,200 onboard

April 26th, 2009 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Hamburg/Rome, April 26 (DPA) An Italian cruise ship carrying 1,200 passengers was able to fend off a pirate attack off the coast of Somalia, according to media reports Sunday.
MS Melody, chartered by the Italian cruise company MSC Crociere S.A., was attacked late Saturday by six pirates wielding Kalashnikov machine guns. Security forces on board returned fire, while the captain tried to out-manoeuvre the attackers, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Initial reports of the attack came from a German passenger, who phoned Spiegel news magazine.

“During a show on board, shots were suddenly being fired,” the passenger said.

The passenger heard repeated gunfire, while other guests saw a white speed boat following the cruise ship.

A spokesman of the European Union’s Atalanta anti-piracy mission confirmed the initial reports to Spiegel, and said they had no information about casualties on board the ship or amongst the attackers.

MS Melody was en route from South Africa to the Italian harbour city of Genoa, and had just left the Seychelles.

Earlier Saturday a German grain ship was seized by pirates.

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