Russian Navy Arrests Eight for ‘Arctic Sea’ Hijack

The Russian navy has arrested eight men accused of hijacking the Finnish vessel – Arctic Sea near Sweden and forcing the crew to sail to West Africa, said media reports citing the Russian defense minister on Tuesday.

The arrests, however, failed to uncover the mystery behind the seizure of the aging cargo vessel.

Security and maritime experts said the Arctic Sea’s mysterious four-week journey pointed to reasons other than piracy, some suggested state involvement and a possible secret cargo onboard the vessel.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of an air-show on the outskirts Moscow, defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov said the suspected hijackers were detained by the Russian naval vessel that found the Russian-crewed Arctic Sea on Monday.

The vessel was located off Cape Verde, thousands of miles (kilometers) from the Algerian port where it was supposed to dock two weeks ago.

Earlier on Tuesday, the defense minister told President Dmitry Medvedev that the suspected hijackers — citizens of Estonia, Latvia and Russia — were arrested without a shot being fired, reported Tass news agency.

The 15 Russian crew members were safe and had been taken aboard the Russian naval vessel for questioning, it said

The disappearance of the 98-meter (320-foot) freighter had triggered speculations ranging from a pirate seizure to a murky commercial dispute.

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