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Cyprus police empty ship of rescued migrants who refused to leave, wanted to go to Italy

  • This Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014 photo taken from a cruise ship that rescued the migrants from a small boat stranded off the east Mediterranean island's main Limassol port, Cyprus, shows apparent refugees on the boat. More than 300 people, apparent refugees fleeing from Syria, refused to leave the cruise ship, a cruise line official said Thursday.(AP Photo/Haris Milonas)

    This Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014 photo taken from a cruise ship that rescued the migrants from a small boat stranded off the east Mediterranean island's main Limassol port, Cyprus, shows apparent refugees on the boat. More than 300 people, apparent refugees fleeing from Syria, refused to leave the cruise ship, a cruise line official said Thursday.(AP Photo/Haris Milonas)  (The Associated Press)

  • This Sept. 25, 2014 photo taken from a cruise ship that rescued the migrants from a stranded shows migrants on a small boat off the southwestern coast of the east Mediterranean island.  More than 300 people, apparent refugees fleeing from Syria, refused to leave a cruise ship that rescued them from a small boat stranded off Cyprus, a cruise line official said Thursday.  Salamis Cruise Lines Managing Director Kikis Vasiliou said that the people are insisting that they be taken to Italy instead. (AP Photo/Haris Milonas)

    This Sept. 25, 2014 photo taken from a cruise ship that rescued the migrants from a stranded shows migrants on a small boat off the southwestern coast of the east Mediterranean island. More than 300 people, apparent refugees fleeing from Syria, refused to leave a cruise ship that rescued them from a small boat stranded off Cyprus, a cruise line official said Thursday. Salamis Cruise Lines Managing Director Kikis Vasiliou said that the people are insisting that they be taken to Italy instead. (AP Photo/Haris Milonas)  (The Associated Press)

  • A policeman stands guard as a ship, that picked up some 345 migrants from a small boat stranded off the southwestern coast of Cyprus, arrives at the Mediterranean island's port of Limassol on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. The Cypriot Defense Ministry said the 345 people, including 53 children, would arrive at the country's southern port of Limassol. They will then be taken to a reception center near the capital Nicosia where they will be given shelter and medical attention. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

    A policeman stands guard as a ship, that picked up some 345 migrants from a small boat stranded off the southwestern coast of Cyprus, arrives at the Mediterranean island's port of Limassol on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. The Cypriot Defense Ministry said the 345 people, including 53 children, would arrive at the country's southern port of Limassol. They will then be taken to a reception center near the capital Nicosia where they will be given shelter and medical attention. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)  (The Associated Press)

Cypriot police say officers from an elite 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 says a number of negotiators peacefully removed nearly 300 people from the ship in the pre-dawn operation Friday 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 center near the capital Nicosia until authorities determine what will happen to them.

The Cypriot cruise ship had rescued the people from a small vessel that put out a distress call early Thursday amid rough seas off Cyprus, southwestern coastal town of Paphos.