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Police remove migrants from ship

Officers from an elite Cyprus police squad have boarded a cruise ship and cleared it of hundreds of rescued migrants, apparently Syrian refugees, who had refused to disembark and insisted on being taken to Italy.

Police spokeswoman Nicoletta Tyrimou said a number of negotiators peacefully removed nearly 300 people from the ship in a pre-dawn operation after hours of negotiations aimed at getting them to leave on their own failed.

In all, 345 people, including 52 children, will remain at a reception centre near the capital, Nicosia, until authorities determine what will happen to them.

The Cypriot cruise ship had rescued the people from a small vessel which put out a distress call early yesterday amid rough seas off the south-western coastal town of Paphos.

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