Italian special forces have responded to an urgent request of a Turkish-flagged ship sailing from Turkey to France after about 15 people armed with weapons attempted to hijack the vessel.

Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said yesterday that the special forces operation was launched due to the presence of about 15 migrants on board the vessel.

The captain of the Turkish vessel Galata Seaways sounded alarm and required assistance due to the alleged presence onboard the vessel of a group of unidentified people onboard, some of them armed, the Italian defence ministry said.

The captain of the ship managed to radio for help, sending an urgent request to Ankara, which subsequently reported the incident to the Italian authorities, as the ship was navigating 95 miles off the Italian coast.

Ansa news agency said the entire 22-man crew of the Turkish ship Galata Seaways are safe after San Marco Brigade special unit intervened off Naples, where the vessel is anchored. The crew was gathered in controlled areas under the operators.

The captain of the ship sounded that alarm after the presence of the stowaways was discovered.

Minister Guido Crosetto said some newspapers are describing the facts of the Galata Seaways ship as “invented”.

“Since the Ministry of Defense and the Minister act responsibly and thoroughly, it is right to demonstrate the truth and groundlessness of these reports, in order to protect the country system,” Minister Guido Crosetto said.

The General Directorate of Maritime Affairs of Turkey confirmed the incident on Friday, mentioning that “the stowaways on the Turkish-flagged Galata Seaways ship were caught by the Italian security forces as a result of a search and disembarked. Following the completion of the administrative procedures, the ship will resume its normal voyage.”