Sixteen (16) fishermen are said to be missing and feared dead after pirates raided their boats off the coast of Suriname and forced them to jump overboard, authorities said Monday.
The fishermen were part of a group of 20 in four boats who were attacked off the Atlantic coast of Suriname, said Cmdr. Jerry Slijngard of the Surinamese Coast Guard.
Four men managed to swim to shore and three of them remain hospitalized. They told police and the Coast Guard that the assailants, suspected of coming from neighboring Guyana because of their accents, beat them with machetes and forced them to jump into the sea. They said some of the victims had batteries tied to their legs to weigh them down.
Coast Guard and police vessels, along with members of the Fisheries Collective Association, have searched for the missing men and the pirates since the attack late Friday.
“We are still searching the area with family members of the fishermen, hoping for a miracle,” said Mark Lall, president of the Fisheries Collective Association.
Small-scale piracy has long been a fact of life along the largely undeveloped coasts of Suriname and Guyana, which lie on the northeastern shoulder of South America. But this level of violence is rare.
One of the captain’s of the boat according to the news reports, stated that he and his crew members were on Friday casting their nets when the pirate vessel approached them.
The fishermen were reportedly ordered to lie down in their boat while the pirates boarded the fishing vessel and assaulted the crew men before ordering them to jump overboard.
According to information from Suriname online news outlet De Ware Tijd the Coast Guard, the Maritime Police, the Navy and fishermen sailed together to the area in an attempt to save lives and to see how great the devastation is.
So far, the case is not entirely clear. Coast Guard Director Jerry Slijngard says that after the police received the report, the same action was taken.