Four fishermen from Guyana are feared dead after an apparent attack by machete-wielding bandits who boarded their boat at sea, authorities said Wednesday.
Agriculture Minister Leslie Ramsammy said the attack reportedly occurred off the coast of neighboring Suriname.
The fishing boat’s captain told police that he jumped into the Atlantic as the vessel was being boarded by men with machetes. He told investigators his four crewmates were attacked and apparently dumped overboard.
No bodies have been recovered. But police say the blood-spattered boat was recently found drifting at sea.
Guyana’s fishermen have complained for years about pirates who seize catches and equipment – even their boats. Some of the attacks have been deadly off the coasts of Guyana and Suriname, neighbors on the north shoulder of South America.
Guyana’s government has cracked down on sea piracy in recent years, increasing maximum penalties from five to 25 years in prison.
Authorities have also pushed to have radios and global positioning systems placed on fishing boats to help the country’s coast guard locate vessels during emergencies. But many fishermen have not complied because of the cost.
Earlier this year, the U.S. government donated three go-fast patrol boats to help Guyana’s military battle sea bandits as well as drug and gun smugglers.
On Wednesday, Ramsammy called for greater cooperation between Guyana and Suriname in combating piracy.