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Friday, July 31, 2009

Pirates in the Baltic Sea?

A strange sea tale out of Sweden - a ship hijacking in the Baltic Sea reported here:
A ship was hijacked in Swedish waters early Friday morning last week, news wire TT reports. The boat was sailing between the islands of Ă–land and Gotland when the hijacking occurred.

Arriving in a boat with "police" painted on the side, a group of masked men searched the Malta-registered timber boat after tying up the crew, which was Russian.

The Swedish police only got word of the hijacking when the Russian Foreign Ministry called the Swedish police to ask why they acted in that fashion. But the Swedish police had never boarded the boat.

Ingemar Isaksson, who is heading the police investigation, said on Thursday that the hijackers spent more than 12 hours on the ship. Though it’s not completely clear what the English-speaking hijackers were after, the police suspect they were looking for drugs.

“This is the first time that I’ve heard about something like this happening in Swedish waters,” Ingemar Isaksson told TT.

Swedish police started investigating the case on Wednesday, but they have still haven’t come into contact with the ship, which apparently continued its normal route after the attack.
Other reports here, here and more details from here:
The attackers, who spoke English, tied the members of the crew of the Arctic Sea and beat them. They also searched the vessel thoroughly before leaving the ship at about noon on the same day.

Swedish police investigating the case are at a loss to come up with a motive for the attack, or who may have been responsible. Suspicions were raised by the fact that that the act of piracy was not reported until several days after the alleged events took place.
The head of the investigation, Ingemar Isaksson of the Swedish police believes that a hijacking did indeed occur, and that the shipping line and the crew were reluctant to approach Swedish authorities, because the pirates claimed to be police officers looking for drugs. Swedish authorities say that there is no suspicion that the ship would be carrying illegal substances.
UPDATE: It should be noted that NATO and EU member navies, as well as Russian naval forces, already patrol the Baltic Sea ... just like they patrol the waters off Somalia ...

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