Police in India say they have arrested the crew of a US-owned ship accused of illegally entering Indian waters with a huge cache of weapons.

MV Seaman Guard Ohio was detained on 12 October by the Indian Coast Guard and is anchored at Tuticorin port in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Its 35-member crew include Indians, Britons, Ukrainians and Estonians, The vessel, owned by a private US-based security firm, is registered in Sierra Leone, officials say.

The US embassy in the capital, Delhi, told the BBC they had “no comment” to make on the reports.

A police official in Tuticorin said that the crew have been taken to the Motiapuram police station where they are being questioned.

Since February last year, India and Italy have been embroiled in a bitter diplomatic row after India arrested two Italian marines for killing two Indian fishermen.

The marines – who are being prosecuted in India – were accused of shooting the fishermen off the Kerala coast.

They were guarding an Italian oil tanker and said they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

In recent years piracy has emerged as a major threat to merchant ships in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, with Somali pirates hijacking ships and their crews for ransom.

But there have been fewer attacks recently, partly because more armed guards are now deployed on board ships.

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