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Russia denies rumours of Arctic Sea sightings

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09:45 CEST+02:00
The Russian embassy in Cape Verde denied rumours that the Arctic Sea, a cargo ship that disappeared off the coast of Sweden at the end of July, had been sighted near the islands off the west coast of Africa.

“The information did not prove to be true,” said Alexander Karpushin, Russia's ambassador to Cape Verde, according to Reuters in a citation from Russian news agency RIA.

He dismissed the information following a meeting with the head of Cape Verde's armed forces.

On Friday night, the Cape Verde coast guard confirmed to AFP news agency that the Arctic Sea had been sighted approximately 740 kilometers from the islands.

At the same time, the Financial Times reported that the ship had been hijacked and the pirates were demanding a ransom of $1.5 million. The report was not confirmed and the hijacking was believed to be related to organized crime.

The Arctic Sea, which was carrying timber, was reportedly hijacked by black-clad masked men claiming to be narcotics police as it passed through Swedish waters between Gotland and Öland in the Baltic Sea in the early hours of July 24th.

The vessel was en route yo Bejaia in Algeria. According to the British coast guard, the ship was last seen by a surveillance plane off the coast of Portugal.

On Wednesday, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev appointed the Russian navy to search for the ship, which has a Russian crew.

There have been speculations that the ship was carrying illegal cargo, such as weapons or drugs.

According to Reuters, a spokesperson for the EU Commission expressed doubt on Friday that the Arctic Sea had been hijacked by pirates.

"Radio calls were apparently received from the ship which had supposedly been under attack twice, the first time off the Swedish coast then off the Portuguese coast," Martin Selmayer said during a press conference.

"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,"

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