Pirate attack off Suriname leaves 16 missing

Sixteen fishermen are missing and feared dead after pirates raided their boats off the coast of Suriname and forced them to jump overboard, the authorities Paramaribo said yesterday, according to the Associated Press (AP).

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, AP reported.

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 being from 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.

AP said that the 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.

Lall called on the government to increase maritime police and Coast Guard patrols and said local fishermen have been too fearful to go out to sea to work since Friday’s attack.

“In the past, they used to get away with the catch or with the boat’s engine,” Lall said. “But now human lives don’t count.”

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