Minister of Public Security, Vice President Khemraj Ramjattan, has led a team to Suriname, for a three-day visit, amid last week’s horrifying attack which saw 20 fishermen thrown overboard during a four-b
oat rampage by pirates.
Three bodies have been recovered and 12 are missing, said to be Guyanese-born fishermen with a major search ongoing by Surinamese authorities.
Desperately worried families have travelled to Suriname or are in Guyana awaiting word about loved ones.
According to the Guyana Police Force yesterday, collaboration is continuing between various authorities in both countries.
The police said that Ramjattan and three senior officers departed for Suriname, following the flow of information between police and other authorities over the last few d
The team is expected to return on Tuesday. The team includes the Deputy Crime Chief and Deputy Commander of ‘B’ Division.
The Police Force also disclosed that its Immigration Department through the Office of the Commissioner of Police has expedited the processing of seven passport applications of Guyanese nationals who are relatives of the missing fishermen allegedly attacked by the pirates.
“Information thus far indicates that apart from the four victims who reported the attack to Suriname authorities, three bodies have been recovered and one survivor from among those reported missing.”
On the local scene, based on information provided by the police authorities in Suriname, three men are in custody, as investigations continue here, the Police Force said.
On Friday, a search party recovered two more bodies, making it a total of three.
Five Guyanese escaped death, with one man, Sherwyn Lovell, telling a harrowing tale of surviving in the wate
rs of the Atlantic Ocean for two days before battling the swamps of Suriname to safety.
Still missing are Guyanese-born Bharrat Heralall, Gavin Outar, Ralph ‘Burnham’ Couchman, Dinesh ‘Vicky’ Persaud, Joshua Glenroy Jones, Tilaknauth Mohabir, Rajkumar Bissessar, Ramesh Sancharra and Ganesh Beharry.
The three bodies are still to be identified, as the decomposed state, have forced authorities in Suriname to resort to DNA tests to ensure that there are no mistakes in handing over the bodies.
It is unclear how long loved ones will have to wait for the remains.
Suriname has also reportedly suspended operations of the fishermen in the Dutch-speaking neighbouring country.
With mainly Guyanese operating in Suriname, the impact is expected to affect fish supply. It is also a source of worry for fishermen and their families.
The suspension would come from fears that a band of pirates who are being hunted may still be lurking.
On Thursday, Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse said that engagements are ongoing with the Guyana Government and authorities. “It is a very sad thing. As the government…we will do everything we can to turn all stones over so that we get the right information and inform the community about what is going on.”
The Head of State stated that so far it seems that there is more to it than just piracy.
“It seems like there is more going on and possibly involves retaliation of things that have probably gone wrong.”
The two bodies were among three spotted in the Wia Wia Bank, where the attack took place two Fridays ago.
The attack was said to have occurred about 40 miles from Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname.
On Friday, news reports said that police in Suriname were looking for families so that a list of the missing men can be compiled. These include names, birth dates and ID numbers or passport numbers.
The police urged family members to report to its Department of Capital Crimes.
On the night of the attack, four boats filled with 19 Guyanese and one Surinamese came under attack by a rampaging gang who chopped crewmembers and dumped them overboard.
A few of the crewmembers had batteries tied to their legs before they were thrown overboard.
Four men, including a captain were later rescued. It was clear from testimonies and police report that the pirates came to kill.
Another Guyanese made it to shore Wednesday after walking in the
swamps for days.
That means that the search is on for 12 persons.
On Thursday, President David Granger described the attack as a massacre and announced that mourning will be observed in Guyana.
Two men, including a Corentyne man who is a brother of fisherman in Suriname gunned down late
March, were arrested in Guyana in relation to the incident.
In Suriname, seven men were arrested Thursday with a number of them released the following day. They are all fishermen- Guyanese who are living between Guyana and Suriname.
Authorities are working on the theory that the attack stemmed from the killing of Somnath Manohar in Suriname. He and an employee were shot when gunmen sprayed where he sat. He died.
Authorities in Suriname and Guyana are trying to determine whether his brother, Nakool Manohar,
planned the attack in retaliation. He was arrested at his Corentyne home on Thursday.
His family is protesting his innocence.
It is believed that the fishermen, mostly Guyanese who ar
e using fishing licences of Suriname to operate, in waters there, have been feuding a while over fishing ground and other rights.
The fishermen who are missing are from the East Coast of Demerara and from Berbice.
Guyana’s ambassador to Suriname, Keith George, has been meeting with families and feeding information to local authorities in Gu
What is compounding the situation is the identification of the missing. Many of the fishermen have no records and or even passports. They have call names.
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