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Italy special forces board Turkish cargo vessel after crew ‘detected unidentified people on board’

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Italian authorities boarded a Turkish vessel off the southern city of Naples after the crew detected a group of unidentified people on board.

During an event on Friday, Italian defence minister Guido Crosetto announced that there were 15 “illegal migrants” on board the ship named Galatea Seaways which was bound for France.

According to reports, 13 men and two women, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, had allegedly snuck into the ship in the hope of finding asylum in Europe.

The Guardian reported that the immigrants were “armed with knives and attempted to hijack the vessel”.

Ansa news agency additionally reported that once the immigrants were discovered by the crew of the ship, they allegedly tried to take some of the sailors hostage inside the bridge using knives.

The captain of the ship was somehow able to get his hands on the radio, sending an SOS request to Ankara, which ended up reporting the incident to the Italian authorities.

“An operation is underway on a vessel boarded by pirates … The stowaways were using what seem to be weapons like daggers” Mr Crosetto told reporters at the time. “The San Marco battalion had to intervene.”

He added: “What is known about the hijackers is that they are illegal immigrants. Let’s hope it ends as quickly as possible without consequences for anyone.”

It reportedly took seven hours for Italian special forces to intervene and regain control of the ship. They reportedly arrested the immigrants, some of whom found a place to hide in the depths of the ship.

After the mission was successful, the Italian ministry said: “The ship has now been recaptured and the entire 22-man crew of the Turkish ship is safe.”

Mr Crosetto also issued a statement on Twitter, writing: “Everything ended well.

“My congratulations to the guys of the San Marco battalion and the police, who completed a wonderful operation,” he added.