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Italian cruise ship fires at pirates, repels them

AN Italian cruise ship repulsed pirates in an attack off the east African coast by returning fire, a Kenyan maritime official said today.

"We hear it's a cruise ship," said Andrew Mwangura of the Mombasa-based East African Sea Farers Assistance Programme. "If that is the case, then they are putting the lives of their passengers in danger by having weapons onboard."

Mwangura did not have more details on the ship.

Sea gangs have increased raids on ships passing through the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean since February when better weather allowed them to hijack more vessels and take more hostages despite foreign navies patrolling off Somalia.

The London-based IMB watchdog said piracy incidents nearly doubled in the first quarter of 2009 almost entirely due to Somalia. There were 18 attacks off the Somali coast in March alone.


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