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Somali pirates’ hijack bid foiled

world Updated: Dec 02, 2008 23:22 IST

Pirates near Somalia chased and shot at a US cruise liner with more than 1,000 people on board but failed to hijack the vessel, a maritime official said.

The liner, carrying 656 international passengers and 399 crew members, was sailing on Sunday in the Gulf of Aden when it encountered six pirates in two speedboats, said Noel Choong who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.

The pirates fired at the passenger liner but the larger boat was faster than the pirates’ vessels, Choong said.

“It is very fortunate that the liner managed to escape,” he said, urging all ships to remain vigilant in the area. The ship’s owner, Oceania Cruises Inc., identified the ship as the M/S Nautica.

In a statement on its Web site, the company said pirates fired eight rifle shots at the liner as it sailed along a maritime corridor patrolled by an international naval coalition, but that the ship’s captain increased speed and managed to outrun the skiffs.

All passengers and crew are safe and there was no damage to the vessel, it said.