Eight held over Arctic Sea ‘hijack’

by Hans | August 18th, 2009

EIGHT people, including Russian, Estonian and Latvian nationals, have been arrested in connection with the alleged hijack of Russian-owned general cargoship Arctic Sea, according to Russian defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov. Interfax news agency quoted Mr Serdyukov as claiming that the 1991-built, 4,706 dwt vessel was hijacked in Swedish territorial waters in the Baltic Sea on July 24, a day after leaving a Finnish port.  According to his account, the hijackers approached the Arctic Sea in a dinghy, requesting assistance. Once on board, they produced firearms and forced the 15-man crew to sail for Africa and to turn off all navigational and tracking equipment.  Both the suspects and the crew of Arctic Sea are now on Russian warship Ladny, where investigations into the incident have commenced.  Arctic Sea first hit the headlines last month, when Swedish police confirmed they were investigating allegations that a gang of masked men impersonating police officers had seized the vessel in Swedish waters. The intruders purportedly insisted on searching the ship for drugs.  Around 15 Russian national seafarers claimed at the time that they were tied up and beaten by a group of around 10 men who boarded the ship on July 24 off the Swedish islands of Öland and Gotland.  The Kremlin subsequently ordered warships and submarines to search the Atlantic for the Arctic Sea, amid widespread speculation over the fate of the ship.

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