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Somali pirate threat forces cruise ship evacuation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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BERLIN (AP) – Hundreds of passengers on a round-the-world cruise will disembark before reaching waters off Somalia and fly to Dubai to avoid pirates, German cruise operator Hapag-Lloyd said Tuesday.

The company said the 150-meter (490-foot) MS Columbus and its crew will continue on through the Gulf of Aden.

Passengers will rejoin the vessel in Oman for the remainder of a trip that began last month in Genoa, Italy.

A company spokesman said passengers would be transferred to planes, but would not comment further. Pirates off the Somali coast have recently started trying to take cruise vessels after a string of attack on cargo ships, including a Saudi oil tanker and a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and other weapons.

The British naval commander in charge of the European Union’s anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia said Tuesday that the force may station armed guards on the most vulnerable cargo ships in high- risk areas.

British Vice-Admiral Philip Jones said the guards may be placed on some ships transporting food aid to Somalia.

The EU mission includes four ships and two maritime reconnaissance aircraft On Dec. 15 it will replace a four-vessel NATO flotilla that has been conducting anti-piracy patrols off the Somali coast.