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BOAT HIJACKERS FROM CUBA ARRIVE IN U.S.

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A group of armed Cubans who hijacked a passenger boat that ferries across the bay off Havana's coast have arrived in Key West, Fla., the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

The 52-foot water taxi was making its regular 5-7 minute crossing of the bay Wednesday when 12-15 armed people took over the craft and diverted it toward the United States, passengers who jumped overboard told Prensa Latina.Cuban border officials in two vessels trailed the boat and its 200 passengers to rescue fleeing passengers but did not attack, Prensa Latina said in a dispatch monitored in Mexico City.

The Coast Guard and exiles arriving in Key West confirmed there was no gunfire.

Coast Guard cutters Nantucket and Point Baker had been diverted to assist the water taxi after it was reported out of gas and adrift about 30 miles northeast of Havana.

The cutters found two Cuban government vessels standing by, and were told if any of those aboard wanted to go to the United States they would be allowed to do so.

The Coast Guard said the Nantucket took 117 aboard and 73 passengers elected to stay aboard the water taxi which was towed back to Cuba.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma denounced the attack Wednesday, saying, "it is not known what type of homage the new adventurers will be given" on arriving in the United States.