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Russian Military Says To Check Arctic Sea Cargo

Sea -- Russian Arctic Sea cargo ship at an unknown location, undated
ULAN BATOR (Reuters) -- Russia's top general has said that the military would search the "Arctic Sea" merchant ship for a possible secret cargo when it returns to Russia from a maritime odyssey that has made headlines around the world.

Russia says the Maltese-registered "Arctic Sea" -- officially carrying timber from Finland to Algeria -- was hijacked by eight men off the coast of Sweden on July 24.

Russian Navy warships intercepted the vessel off the coast of Cape Verde.

"We do not know yet what it is carrying, we only know it is timber. But what else it is actually transporting -- it has yet to be clarified," Nikolai Makarov, chief of Russia's general staff, told reporters during an official visit to Mongolia.

The saga of the "Arctic Sea" sparked concern across Europe after media reported the ship may have been smuggling arms or even nuclear material to the Middle East.