The Italian Almanac


Freed from Pirates

An Italian ship hijacked off the coast of Somalia with 23 people on board was freed in an operation by British special forces. The 11 pirates who hijacked the Montecristo have all been arrested. Seven of the crew aboard the ship, which is owned by the D'Alesio Group, are Italian.

The Montecristo set off from the port of Liverpool and was understood to be en route to Vietnam with a cargo of iron. Media reports said that as soon as the Italian ship left the escort of a Japanese naval vessel and entered the Indian Ocean it came under attack from the pirates.

Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said earlier that 60 navy service personal would form part of 10 special new units that will be stationed aboard Italian merchant ships when they travel through waters where pirates operate.

Somali pirates are currently holding at least a dozen ships including two Italians: the Savina Caylyn hijacked in February, five of whose 22-strong original crew are still being held; and the Rosalia D'Amato', hijacked in April, which has six crew members still in the pirates' hands. Last year the pirates are believed to have earned $80 million from ransom money. Earlier this year governments reached an international agreement that they would not pay ransom.