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NICOSIA, Cyprus – 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.