'Pirates' try to hijack Turkish cargo ship off Italy
Men, some armed with knives, briefly took control of a Turkish cargo ship heading to the France on Friday (June 9th) off Naples, until Italian special forces intervened.
Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto in Rome, February 9, 2023. © ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP
Text by: RFI Follow
About fifteen people forced the crew after being discovered in the Galata Seaways, a merchant ship that was then cruising off the island of Ischia, in the Neapolitan Gulf (south), according to the Italian Ministry of Defense.
The commander, after alerting the authorities in Ankara, was "kidnapped" with his men under the threat of "daggers" brandished by some attackers who tried to "hijack" the ship, said Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, who spoke of an act of "piracy". The freighter, which was heading towards the France, then "clearly deviated from its trajectory", according to the Ansa agency.
Tutto l'equipaggio della Galata Seaways è al sicuro in plancia. Secondo quanto si apprende l'operazione di bonifica della nave da parte della Brigata San Marco è ancora in corso per cercare altri clandestini a bordo #ANSA pic.twitter.com/EfeVOPgaMv
— Agenzia ANSA (@Agenzia_Ansa) June 9, 2023
Special Forces Intervention
Warned by Turkey, the Italian authorities deployed the Navy's helicopter special forces who quickly invaded the ship and made arrests. Two helicopters of the Italian Navy, as well as assets from the coast guard and customs police were engaged in the operation.
The daily La Repubblica understands that the 22 crew members were taken to safety, as well as three "passengers", while the 15 attackers were "neutralized". Authorities did not report any injuries. A government source confirmed in the evening that the Italian military had regained control of the situation and brought the crew to safety. According to this government source, the attackers could be migrants, but the investigation will have to determine where and when they boarded the freighter.
The ship was in the port of Naples on Friday night, according to real-time data from the marinetraffic.com website. Il Mattino, a daily newspaper in the Campania region of which Naples is the capital, confirmed that the cargo ship had been taken to the harbor of the Parthenopean city.
Investigators and intervention teams from the national police and customs police boarded to conduct initial investigations and search for possible illegal immigrants. An investigation was opened for "kidnapping" and "attempted embezzlement".
The vessel is a Turkish-flagged ro-ro vessel that was carrying trucks. Specialized sites indicate that he had left Topcular in Turkey on June 7 for Sète, in the south of the France, where he was to arrive on Saturday. The Maritime Prefecture of the Mediterranean confirmed that the boat was carrying cargo to the port of Sète.
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