Berbice group nabs pirates after gunfight

-hands them over to Suriname police after local authorities fail to respond

Members of the Berbice Anti-Piracy Committee (BAPC) yesterday apprehended four pirates, said to be fishermen from No 43 Village, Corentyne after firing shots at them and turned them over to the Suriname authorities.

The pirates were in the process of robbing a fishing boat in the vicinity off Eversham, Corentyne when members of the BAPC overpowered and arrested them.

They had earlier used a gun and cutlasses to rob two fishing vessels in Suriname waters of fish, fish glue, groceries and other articles after beating the captains and crew members. The vessels belong to fishermen from the No 66 Fisheries

They took possession of one of the boats and held the fishermen hostage as they continued to rob other boats. A pirate was operating their boat and was trying to escape but members of the BAPC captured him as well.

President of the BAPC and chairman of the No 66 Fisheries, Pravinchandra Deodat said the pirates fired a shot at them but when they were cornered they apparently threw the gun overboard.

The pirates had removed their masks and Deodat said that at first it was difficult to tell who the fishermen were from the pirates. As they got closer they asked the fishermen to step aside and they used pieces of rope to tie up the pirates until the police from Suriname arrived.

Deodat said that after learning about the attack from one of the owners of the hijacked boat around 10:30 am yesterday, he immediately contacted the local coastguards.

The officers told them that they would need “backup from the police” and he called for the commander and deputy commander of ‘B’ Division and was told that they were both out of office. He was given a number for the crime chief but did not get through to him.

He and the other members then decided to go out on the water and he called the coastguard again to inform them. He later called again to let them know that they had closed in on the pirates and that they had opened fire on them.

He provided their location and the officers promised to join them but after they failed to show up he tried their number again but did not get through. He then called the police in Suriname and they responded.

In recent years pirates have mercilessly harried Coren-tyne fishermen, killed a number of them and robbed hundreds.

Several weeks ago it was alleged that two fishermen died after being thrown overboard by pirates.

The government has been repeatedly urged by fishermen to take stronger measures to halt piracy. Thus far the measures implemented have not worked. Fishermen have also called for intensified patrols by the local coast guard.

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