Sweden hunts suspected foreign submarine near capital

17th October 2014, Comments 0 comments

The Swedish armed forces announced a large military operation around islands off Stockholm late Friday following reports of suspicious "foreign underwater activity".

"We have begun an intelligence operation... involving ships, helicopters and several ground units," Commander Jonas Wikstroem told reporters, adding that the operation was based on a tip-off from a "credible source" and that about 200 Swedish troops were involved. He added that no weapons had been used in the operation.

Wikstroem did not specify how close the operation was to the Swedish capital, nor whether the activity involved one of more submarines, but said that he was informing the public as the area has "heavily trafficked".

In recent months, Swedish media have reported an uptick in Russian air force manoeuvres in the Baltic Sea, including a close encounter in early October between a Swedish spy plane and a Russian fighter jet.

"As the government has said, the situation has deteriorated in the Baltic Sea," Wikstroem said.

During the Cold War the then neutral -- and now non-aligned -- Nordic country was regularly on alert following Russian submarine sightings, including one notable case in 1981 when a Soviet U-boat ran aground several miles from one of Sweden's largest naval base.

© 2014 AFP

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