Italian cruise ship the MSC Melody warded off a pirate attack 500 miles off the coast of Somalia on Saturday.

Private Israeli security forces opened fire against six Somali pirates attempting to board the ship.

The cruise liner, with 1,000 passengers and 500 crew, was sailing from Durban in South Africa to Genoa in Italy.

Before opening fire, the security forces turned off all the lights and confined passengers to their cabins. The security forces used a high-pressure fire hose on the pirates as they attempted to board the ship, before opening fire with pistols.

The decision to use guns was welcomed by the ship owners, but criticised by maritime officials.

By staff writer