An Italian tugboat and its crew of 16, seized by pirates off the Gulf of Aden in April, have been released, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.
Frattini told Sky Italia TV he had been given the news by the Somali prime minister.
The ship's release was the result of exceptional work on the part of Somali authorities and the Italian intelligence service, he said.
The pirates hijacked the Italian-flagged Buccaneer on April 11 with a crew of 10 Italians, five Romanians and one Croatian and took it to a point close to Las Qoray, a fishing village in a disputed area of northern Somalia.
The ship is now on its way to the port of Djibouti, escorted by naval vessels, said Silvio Bartolotti, general manager of the company that owns it, Ravenna-based Micoperi Marine Contractors.
The ship was not freed as the result of military action and no ransom was paid, Bartolotti said.
The foreign ministry issued a statement expressing great satisfaction with the positive solution of the... hijacking of the cargo ship Buccaneer and the freeing of the Italians on board.
It is said the ship's release was the result of a long process of contacts with the Somali authorities, the collaboration of the Puntland authorities, and the work of the Italian intelligence service.
Las Qoray lies between the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia and breakaway Somaliland.
Puntland has been relatively peaceful compared with southern Somalia, which has been mired in conflict for 18 years, but has become infamous as a base for pirates who have hijacked scores of ships in the busy shipping lanes off the coast.