Italian special forces have stormed a cargo ship heading from Turkey to France after an estimated 15 migrants armed with knives tried to hijack the vessel.
Asylum seekers, whose nationality has not been disclosed, were allegedly sneaking into the Galatea Seaways, a cargo ship named Galatea Seaways, in the hope of reaching Europe.
The vessel, designed to carry vehicles and sailing under a Turkish flag with 22 crew members, set off from Top ular in Turkey on 7 June and was headed for S te in southern France, Italy's defence ministry said.
Once on board, the stowaways were discovered by the crew and allegedly try to take some of the sailors hostage inside the bridge using knives, Ansa news agency said.
The captain of the ship managed to radio for help, sending an urgent request to Ankara, which later reported the incident to Italian authorities, as the ship was navigating off the Italian coast.
The stowaways were using what appears to be weapons like daggers to threaten the crew, Italy's defence minister Guido Crosetto said. The battalion of San Marco had to intervene. Crosetto said: What is known about the hijackers is that they are illegal immigrants. It ends as quickly as possible without any consequences, he argues. After a seven-hour military operation, Special Forces regained control of the ship, reportedly arresting the alleged hijackers, some of whom had barricaded themselves in the depths of the hold.
Two navy helicopters, along with coastguard and financial police boats, were involved in the operation, the Italian government said.
The Turkish ship has now been recaptured and the entire 22-man crew of the Turkish ship has been safe, a ministry spokesman said.
The vessel is now anchored just outside the Naples port, the MarineTraffic ship tracking website said, and local media reported that a heavy police presence was at the port.
After a similar incident in 2019, the humanitarian group SeaWatch disputed the term pirates arguing that the migrants' actions were in self-defence against the deadly consequences forced upon them by Europe's inhumane border policy.
In February, Bulgarian authorities found 18 migrants dead in an abandoned truck near Lokorsko village, 12 miles north-west of Sofia.
In 2020, seven north African men boarded a container in the Serbian town of id, hoping that they would emerge a few days later in Milan. However, the container was transferred onto a ship at a Croatian port before passing through Egypt, Spain and across the Atlantic Ocean to Argentina, where it was taken to Asuncin, the landlocked capital of Paraguay.
The men squeezed in the tiny space between the cargo and the container s roof did not survive. The bodies were found four months after they entered the metal box.