May 3, 2018 / 11:34 PM / 2 months ago

Pirate attack off Suriname leaves at least a dozen missing, feared dead

GEORGETOWN/PARAMARIBO (Reuters) - At least a dozen fishermen from Guyana are missing, feared dead, after a pirate attack off the coast of neighbouring Suriname last week that Guyana’s president called a “massacre” on Thursday.

The bodies of three fishermen have been found, while four escaped and swam to shore, according to Suriname authorities. Authorities from both countries are continuing to search for the missing men.

Media reports, citing survivors, said that the fishermen were forced to jump in the sea, some with weights tied to their legs.

Piracy has long been rife in the waters off the tiny nations of Suriname and Guyana, as well as neighbouring Venezuela.

“We have been very successful over the last three years in curbing piracy. This has come as a setback,” Guyana President David Granger said.

His counterpart in Suriname, President Desi Bouterse, has yet to speak publicly on the subject, spurring criticisms of a lack of response from the government.

Jerry Slijngard, who coordinates Suriname’s disaster management centre, said that victims’ families would be supported by the government.

“The exchange of information, patrols by maritime police and the deployment of technology ... will contribute to reducing this form of crime,” he said in a statement.

Another boat was attacked off Suriname on Wednesday, according to a fishermen’s association, who said the captain was shot dead but the rest of the crew survived.

Reporting by Ank Kuipers in Paramaribo and Neil Marks in Georgetown; writing by Girish Gupta, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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