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Swiss ship shakes off pirates

A Swiss cargo carrier managed to beat off a pirate attack in the Arabian Sea last week, the Swiss Federal Office for National Economic Supply revealed on Monday.

The Turicum was five nautical miles outside the zone covered by the Atalanta international task force set up to combat Somali pirates when it was approached last Wednesday, an official said.

The ship was harassed for about seven hours, as pirates in three speed boats manoeuvred in an attempt to board.

None of the 20 crew members was hurt during the incident.

According to the official, the Turicum was heavily laden with timber, which made it an ideal target.

The Zurich shipping company which owns the Turicum has not commented on the incident.

Last year 24 Swiss ships crossed the Gulf of Aden without incident. However, a Swiss freighter was attacked while lying off Lagos harbour in Nigeria in November. On that occasion the pirates were able to board, and stole valuables belonging to the crew, several of whom were injured.

Despite being landlocked, Switzerland has a merchant fleet which currently stands at 35 ships, manned mostly by foreign crews.

The Swiss parliament last year rejected a government proposal that Switzerland should participate in the Atalanta operation, set up to combat an upsurge in piracy off the coast of Somalia. and agencies

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