Pirate attack off Suriname leaves a dozen fishermen missing | News | DW | 03.05.2018
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Pirate attack off Suriname leaves a dozen fishermen missing

More than a dozen fishermen are feared dead following a presumed pirate attack on ships in waters next to the Caribbean. Officials think the sea raiders came from neighboring Guyana.

Rescue teams from Suriname — South America's smallest country — were again searching nearby coastal waters on Thursday after a group of at least 12 fishermen disappeared last week while fishing on four ships.

The men were the apparent victims of local pirates who have terrorized the Atlantic Ocean coasts of Suriname, Guyana, and neighboring Venezuela for years.

Read more: Missing US family found after river pirate attack in Brazil

What we know about the attack

  • As many as 19 fishermen set sail on Friday in four boats when they came under attack from pirates.
  • Four of them managed to swim to shore and raise the alarm.
  • Local media cited survivors as saying that the men were forced to jump in the sea, some with weights tied to their legs.
  • The bodies of three of the fishermen were recovered on Wednesday.
  • The others are now feared dead too.
  • On Wednesday, a separate pirate attack was reported on a vessel close to the Matapica canal, which left the ship's captain dead.

Read more: Somali pirates release ship and hostages with no ransom

A blow to anti-piracy efforts

Guyana's president David Granger described the attacks as a "massacre," adding that they were a "setback" to the two countries' success in tackling piracy over the previous three years.

His counterpart in Suriname, President Desi Bouterse, has faced criticism for not speaking publicly about the incidents.

The director of Suriname's national disaster coordination center, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Slijngard, said the rescue operation had been hampered by unfavorable sea conditions.

Describing Wednesday's latest attack, the secretary of the Suriname Fishermen's Society, Mark Lall, said the whereabouts of the remaining members of the ship's crew are uncertain.

Read more: Southeast Asia - a pirates' paradise

Long history of robberies at sea: Piracy has been rife for decades in the waters off Suriname and Guyana. Authorities believe the latest attacks were not random acts of piracy, as first claimed, but instead carried out by an organized group. Other reports have suggested the victims may have been killed as part of a territorial dispute between local fishermen.

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