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Unclear if ‘pirates’ threatened Turkish ship crew: Italian media

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The crew of a cargo ship boarded by Italian special forces may not have been threatened by knife-wielding “pirates” as initially reported, Italian media said on Saturday, Agence France-Presse reported.

On Friday Italy’s defense minister said marines had dropped onto a vessel off the nation’s coast after reports that “stowaways” had threatened the crew with knives.

The Galata Seaways, sailing under a Turkish flag, was then escorted to Naples, where Italian investigators were questioning the crew and others aboard.

According to Friday media reports and statements from the defense ministry, the ship captain radioed for help after knife-wielding migrants, who had secretly boarded the vessel hoping to reach Europe and were discovered by the crew, tried to take some of the crew hostage.

But interviews with the crew have so far not backed up that version of events, according to Italian media on Saturday.

The captain has told investigators that he alerted the authorities after he saw two men with knives try to enter the ship’s machine section and, failing to do so, then rejoined the other stowaways, according to reports by ANSA news agency and La Repubblica daily.

“For the moment, it is not clear what the clandestine passengers wanted to do with the knives,” La Repubblica said, citing “informed sources.”

“Thus it is not clear whether there was a diversion attempt or not,” La Reppublica wrote, adding that no one has yet been charged with piracy over the incident.

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