AFP - A Spanish warship has intercepted a skiff carrying nine suspected Somali pirates believed to have attacked an Italian cruise ship at the weekend, the defence ministry said Monday.
The Numancia frigate "intercepted a skiff with nine occupants who could be connected to the hijacking attempt of the Italian cruise ship which was eventually repelled by the boat," it said in a statement.
The cruise liner Melody, carrying more than 1,500 people, was attacked on Saturday by six armed pirates in a small boat, but Israeli security guards on board the ship responded to the pirates' gunfire and were able to repel them.
After the hijacking attempt The Numancia, along with patrol planes from France and the Seychelles and an Indian navy ship, launched a high-seas hunt for the assailants.
During the search, the naval mission found "two small boats with nine suspects on board very close to the scene of the attack against the cruise," the Spanish defence ministry said.
The suspects abandoned one the boats and were later caught in the skiff. The Spanish navy handed over the suspects to a Seychelles ship since they were captured in the island nation's waters in the Indian Ocean.