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Malta armed forces seize tanker hijacked by migrants

Published
FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday, March 20, 2019, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini at the Italian Senate, in Rome. Migrants hijacked a cargo ship in Libyan waters on Wednesday March 27, 2019, and have forced the crew to reroute the vessel north toward Europe, and Italian Interior Minister Salvini said the ship, was carrying around 120 migrants, but Italian authorities vowed they would not allow it into their territorial waters. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, FILE)

VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — Malta armed forces say a special operations team has seized a tanker that was hijacked by migrants and it is now heading to a Maltese port with the migrants and crew.

Malta armed forces said Thursday that control of the vessel was returned to the captain and it was being escorted and monitored to Malta, where the migrants will be handed over to police for investigation.

Authorities in Malta and Italy said the migrants had hijacked the cargo ship after it rescued them in the Mediterranean Sea and forced the crew to put the Libya-bound vessel on a course north toward Europe. The tanker had rescued about 120 people before it was taken over in what Italy's interior minister described as "the first piracy on the high seas with migrants."

FILE - In this March 20, 2019, photo, Italian Interior Minister and Vice Premier Matteo Salvini gestures at the Italian Senate in Rome. Migrants hijacked a cargo ship in Libyan waters on Wednesday March 27, 2019, and have forced the crew to reroute the vessel north toward Europe, and Italian Interior Minister Salvini said the ship, was carrying around 120 migrants, but Italian authorities vowed they would not allow it into their territorial waters. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)
FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday, March 20, 2019, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini at the Italian Senate, in Rome. Migrants hijacked a cargo ship in Libyan waters on Wednesday March 27, 2019, and have forced the crew to reroute the vessel north toward Europe, and Italian Interior Minister Salvini said the ship, was carrying around 120 migrants, but Italian authorities vowed they would not allow it into their territorial waters. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, FILE)
FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday, March 20, 2019, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini at the Italian Senate, in Rome. Migrants hijacked a cargo ship in Libyan waters on Wednesday March 27, 2019, and have forced the crew to reroute the vessel north toward Europe, and Italian Interior Minister Salvini said the ship, was carrying around 120 migrants, but Italian authorities vowed they would not allow it into their territorial waters. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, FILE)
FILE - In this March 20, 2019, photo, Italian Interior Minister and Vice Premier Matteo Salvini gestures at the Italian Senate in Rome. Migrants hijacked a cargo ship in Libyan waters on Wednesday March 27, 2019, and have forced the crew to reroute the vessel north toward Europe, and Italian Interior Minister Salvini said the ship, was carrying around 120 migrants, but Italian authorities vowed they would not allow it into their territorial waters. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)
FILE - In this March 20, 2019, photo, Italian Interior Minister and Vice Premier Matteo Salvini gestures at the Italian Senate in Rome. Migrants hijacked a cargo ship in Libyan waters on Wednesday March 27, 2019, and have forced the crew to reroute the vessel north toward Europe, and Italian Interior Minister Salvini said the ship, was carrying around 120 migrants, but Italian authorities vowed they would not allow it into their territorial waters. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)