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Europe

Vanished ship came 'under attack twice'

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-14

A cargo ship that vanished two weeks ago while passing through the English Channel was "attacked twice", a European Union spokesman said Friday. Russian warships are scouring the Atlantic Ocean for the missing vessel.

AFP - A cargo ship that vanished two weeks ago in the English channel appears to have been attacked twice, but not in "traditional" acts of piracy, a European Union spokesman said Friday.
  
"Radio calls were apparently received from the ship which had supposedly been under attack twice, the first time off the Swedish coast and then off the Portuguese coast," EU Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr told reporters in Brussels.
  
"From information currently available it would seem that these acts, such as they have been reported, have nothing in common with 'traditional' acts of piracy or armed robbery at sea," he added, without going into details.
  
Mystery surrounds the fate of the Maltese-flagged, Russian-crewed cargo ship which dropped off the radar in the English Channel on July 28, with experts debating whether pirates, a mafia quarrel or a commercial dispute is the cause.
  
Swedish police say the ship was hijacked in the Baltic Sea on July 24, when masked men claiming to be anti-drugs police boarded the ship, tied up the crew and searched the vessel. But the men reportedly left after about 12 hours.
  
Following the Arctic Sea's disappearance, however, maritime experts are questioning whether the hijackers remained in control of the ship as it passed through the Channel and headed out to sea.
  
Russian warships have been scouring the Atlantic Ocean for the ship.
  
The European Commission spokesman said that "coordinated reaction has been established between the (EU) member states concerned by this matter" but offered no further comment "in order not to hinder the ongoing law enforcement activities".
  
The latest whisper as to the ship's whereabouts emerged Thursday when a Finnish blogger, picked up by Russian media, wrote that an unidentified vessel the same length as the Arctic Sea had sailed into the northern Spanish port of San Sebastian.
  
The Finnish-chartered ship had been due to arrive in Algeria on August 4 with a cargo of 6,700 cubic metres of sawn timber.
  

Date created : 2009-08-14

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