Pirates storm Corentyne boats

A band of armed, masked pirates on Thursday morning raided five Guyanese fishing vessels off the Corentyne coast, stripping them of their engines and other equipment before ferrying the fisher folk to Suriname where they were deposited to find their way back home.

The victims believe that the pirates are Surinamese who have joined with Guyanese to torment fishermen. Back in July, operating in similar fashion, pirates attacked over 12 fishing vessels, stripping them of engines and other equipment before beating the occupants and leaving them stranded in the deep sea.

Davenand Singh, also known as Davo, 49, of Rose Hall Town is one of the victims of this latest attack.

Singh who only returned on Saturday midday after being attacked on Thursday by the pirates told Stabroek News that he was out on the sea when around 8:30 pm a big boat with bright lights pulled up alongside him. He said the occupants pointed guns at him and his crew. Singh said the men then ordered him to loosen the engine from his vessel and climb aboard their vessel, which he did willingly fearing for his life. The masked pirates then ordered Singh to pilot their vessel while they raided other boats in the deep sea.

Singh said that the pirates did not hurt anyone, but those who resisted got a few slaps. He said they were taken to a place in neighbouring Suriname where they were left in a boat. He said they managed, however, to sail back to the No.66 Fish Port sometime on Saturday morning where they made reports to the police station and Coast Guards, who were searching for them. Singh said the attack by the pirates will not prevent him from plying his trade.

Up to Saturday morning Singh’s wife Sherine was in tears. The woman, who is a fish vendor at the Rose Hall and Port Mourant Markets, had told Stabroek News that her husband left home on Thursday for his trip to sea. She said he would normally call her every two hours but on Thursday he did not and as such she took the initiative to call him. Sherine said that when she called, her husband’s phone rang out. She told Stabroek News that on Friday another fisherman sent a message to her saying that he saw her husband’s boat but did not see him. Immediately Sherine said she contacted the police.

Stabroek News spoke with the fisherman who told Sherine about her husband’s boat. He gave his name as Terry. According to him he went out in the sea on Friday and saw a boat about one hundred metres away from him. He said that he could not recognize whose boat it was but saw no engine on it. Wanting to find out more about the vessel Terry said he sailed closer to it at which point he recognized that it was Singh’s boat. At the time the boat was stripped of its seine and engine. Terry said he called out for ‘Davo’ but got no answer and fearing that he might have been killed he opened the cabin and upturned the ice box in a search for the fisherman.

Police and the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard have come in for criticisms for their inability to stop rising sea piracy attacks in the Corentyne and other parts of the country. During a visit to Port Mourant in August, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee was severely criticised by the fisher folk, some of whom walked out of his meeting. A series of measures were proposed by the Agriculture Ministry to stop the attacks and the GDF had also unveiled a plan.

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