Pirates attack luxury cruise ship in Peruvian Amazon

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A group of pirates in Peru attacked a luxury cruise vessel carrying international passengers in the Amazonian region of Loreto on Thursday, said a senior police officer of the city of Iquitos.

The ship, with 33 Peruvians, 20 Americans, six Australians and two New Zealanders on board, was cruising through the jungle rivers of the Peruvian Amazon when it was attacked by a group of eight men, said Julio Mercado, police chief of Iquitos.

Mercado said the pirates attacked the ship at around 3 a.m. local time under cover of darkness, when the ship was in the middle of the jungle.

According to Mercado, the assailants were armed with large-caliber weapons and rapidly robbed their victims. The pirates took control of the ship, which belongs to Delfin Amazon Cruises, for about 30 minutes and took personal possessions and money worth around 20,000 U.S. dollars.

The captain of the ship, Wilson Monge, 65, resisted and suffered a head injury by being pistol-whipped.

The Peruvian Amazon has seen such assaults periodically as pirates profit from the distance from population centers to attack cruise ships on the Amazon's riverways.

But, Oscar Garrido Lecca, director of the port of Iquitos, said such assaults tended to target smaller vessels than this. Endit

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