The Russian Navy has freed a cargo ship in the Atlantic without firing a single shot and eight suspected hijackers were arrested, Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Tuesday.
The Arctic Sea vessel was located 480 km off Cape Verde on Monday after being missing in the Atlantic for over two weeks. In addition to 15 crew of the vessel, there were eight other unidentified people on board.
Serdyukov said a speedboat carrying four Estonians, two Latvians and two Russians approached the Arctic Sea in the Swedish territorial waters July 24.
"The hijackers boarded the Arctic Sea, threatened the crew with weapons and demanded that their orders be followed. The Arctic Sea was on route to Africa with all of its communications and navigation equipment shut down, as ordered by the hijackers," the minister told President Dmitry Medvedev.
The Russian Navy personnel arrested the eight hijackers. None of the crew was injured in the operation, the minister said.
"The investigation into the hijacking is continuing on board the (Russian Navy's) Ladny frigate. We are taking measures to send the crew (of the Arctic Sea) back home," Serdyukov said.
Russia's Investigation Commission said it launched a criminal probe in connection with the hijacking.
The Maltese-flagged cargo ship, carrying timber, left Finland July 22-en route to Algeria. The ship last made radio contact with British coast guards July 28. Finnish Police confirmed that a $1.5 million ransom demand had been issued.
Last week, President Medvedev instructed the navy to launch a search for the missing ship.