The crew of an Italian ship seized by pirates on Monday was freed Tuesday thanks to an operation by U.S. and British troops working with the Italian military, the Italian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
Eleven pirates who hijacked the Montecristo surrendered to the troops operating under NATO's Operation Ocean Shield, the ministry said in a statement.
The crew took refuge in a compartment in the ship and all crew members are safe, the ministry said. The captain sent a message Monday indicating that the vessel had been attacked by a ship with five armed people on board, the D'Alesio Group said in a statement.
The captain immediately activated security procedures, the statement said.
The crew included 23 people from Italy, Ukraine, and India, the D'Alesio Group said.
On the day of their release, and one day after they were captured, Italy is to start putting military guards on ships traversing the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia, the Defense Ministry announced Tuesday.
Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa is signing an agreement Tuesday with the confederation of Italian ship owners to put military guards on board vessels in the area of the Indian Ocean at risk from Somali pirates, the ministry told CNN.