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Migrants ‘hijack’ merchant ship in Mediterranean

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A group of migrants has “hijacked” a merchant ship that appears to be heading towards Malta, the Armed Forces of Malta said on Wednesday.

The El Hiblu 1 tanker was taken over by 108 migrants when it was six miles off the Libyan coast.

A Maltese army spokeswoman told dpa that Maltese authorities had received reports of the “pirated ship” and they have since been “monitoring” the situation.

The last contact with the ship was an alert sent out by the captain.

She said the ship was heading north and was expected to reach Maltese waters Thursday.

The Maltese army was putting units on standby and was seeking legal advice since this could be the first case of sea piracy in the Mediterranean in recent memory.

In a tweet, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said this was no longer a rescue operation but an “act of piracy.”

Earlier on, the EU said it will suspend ship patrols that have rescued tens of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean.

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