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Italy asks Somali PM's help in freeing ship

01 February 2012, 17:12

Rome - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Wednesday asked his Somali counterpart Abdiweli Mohamed Ali for help in freeing an Italian ship hijacked by pirates in December with 18 crew members on board.

Monti asked Ali at a meeting in Rome "to do everything in his power" to liberate the Enrico Ievoli cargo ship, which has six Italians, five Ukrainians and seven Indians on board, the government said in a statement.

Ali assured Monti "of his personal engagement in aiding the liberation of the Italian ship and its crew, underscoring his government's strong commitment to preventing the scourge of piracy," the statement said.

The ship, which was carrying 15 750 tons of caustic soda from the United Arab Emirates to the Mediterranean, was boarded by pirates on December 27 off the coast of Oman, just days after another Italian vessel was released.

The same ship had already been attacked by pirates in 2006 off Yemen.

A total of three hijacked Italian vessels were freed from Somali pirates in November and December 2011, two of them reportedly following ransom payments.

The Savina Caylyn, an oil tanker with five Italians and 17 Indians on board, was freed on December 21 after more than 10 months in captivity.

The foreign ministry denied the government had paid any ransom and said the liberation was the result of "constant pressure" on Somali authorities.

In November, the Rosalia D'Amato cargo ship with a crew of 21 was also released after seven months in the hands of Somali pirates.

Also in November, British and US commandos freed another Italian vessel, the Montecristo, with seven Italians, 10 Ukrainians and six Indians on board.


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