Italy rules out military rescue of pirate hostages

Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:45am EDT

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ROME, April 17 (Reuters) - Italy opposes a military rescue of 10 Italian sailors kidnapped by pirates off Somalia, Italy's foreign minister said on Friday, adding the hostages were in good health.

The pirates hijacked an Italian-flagged tugboat carrying 10 Italians, 5 Romanians and a Croatian on Saturday. The vessel has been taken close to the fishing village of Las Qoray in a disputed area of northern Somalia.

"We've had contacts with the foreign minister of Somalia with a view to obtaining the speedy release of the ship and its crew -- without considering a blitz or operations using force that could put lives at risk," Frattini told Reeuters.

Las Qoray is between a contested area of the semi-autonomous Puntland region and breakaway Somaliland, which have fought over disputed regions in the past.

Somaliland has offered the use of its ports to foreign navies fighting the pirates.

Frattini said the foreign ministry was using its contacts with Puntland and Somalia to pursue the release of the hostages. (Reporting by Roberto Landucci; Writing by Phil Stewart)