Page last updated at 19:32 GMT, Thursday, 29 October 2009

'Mystery ship' returns to Malta

The Arctic Sea, file image

A Maltese-flagged freighter that mysteriously disappeared in the Atlantic over the summer has returned to Malta, officials say.

The Arctic Sea was towed into harbour in the Maltese capital, Valletta, after maritime officials inspected the vessel and declared it radiation-free.

The ship disappeared on its way from Finland to Algeria, and was eventually found off the Cape Verde islands.

It was at the centre of bizarre claims about hijacking and weapons smuggling.

The Maltese-flagged, Russian-crewed ship was purportedly attacked by pirates in Swedish waters in July.

A Russian warship located it off West Africa in August and arrested eight alleged hijackers.

The boldness of the hijacking and the elaborate effort to recapture it prompted speculation that the ship was carrying missiles for Iran or Syria, but Russian officials dismissed the claims.

Both Russian and Maltese authorities said the ship was recovered with its officially-listed cargo of timber still on board.

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