Sunday 29 November, 2020

More fishermen attacked at sea, NGO calls for emergency action

Months after the deaths of seven fishermen, more fishermen narrowly escaped with their lives after an attack at sea on Thursday afternoon, said President of the Carli Bay Fishing Association, Imtiaz Khan.

According to reports, the vessels contained several armed men who fired several shots.

Khan told Loop News that the fishermen, who had been fishing in the Gulf of Paria, managed to escape by cutting their nets and are now all safely ashore, however he said that their initial efforts to contact the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard for help were unsuccessful.

Khan said the fishermen also lit flares to alert other fishermen in the area, who responded by putting out their lights in order to evade their attackers. 

According to police sources, a report had been filed earlier this morning that two boats containing six fishermen remained unaccounted for, however, Khan confirmed to Loop News that since then all six men and their boats had returned safely to shore.

Khan added that just Wednesday, fishermen attended a wake for the mother of Jason Baptiste, one of the fishermen still missing after the July 22, 2019 attack. They are saying she died of grief over the incident.

NGO Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) said the situation needs an emergency intervention. 

"Emergency release. All fishers and seafarers are being warned that there is NO LAW or order on our sea. Last night armed pirates attacked us again," he said. 

FFOS representative Gary Aboud said that calls were made to the Coast Guard around 10.19 pm and after about 10 phone calls they received a response from the Coast Guard, just after midnight. 

He said the TTCG's emergency hotline did work however they were told that the vessels were in South Trinidad. 

"The police responded only after it was posted live on Facebook and went viral," he said. 

Khan said that since they submitted a written letter for a meeting to address security issues to National Security Minister Stuart Young in September, they have had no response.

"We went by the Prime Minister's office, we wrote a letter to the National Security Minister in September and no response," he said. 

Aboud said that something must be done urgently.

"The PM wrote us two weeks ago and promised us a meeting with Stuart Young, but then a dreary silence and nothing! Nothing! Why is our elected government seemingly unresponsive to the brutality in central Trinidad? Would it be different if Tobagonians or Westmoorings were being repeatedly attacked and murdered?"

"How many more must die before our prime minister considers our constructive recommendations to save the lives of our loved ones?"

Months after the attack, two fishermen - Justin Kissoon, 19, and Jason Baptiste, 30 are still missing at sea, while the bodies of Brandon "Curry" Kissoon, 21, Shiva "Aries" Ramdeo, 27, Anand Rampersad, 39, and Leslie De Boulet, were found in the waters off Point Fortin, Cedros, and La Brea after the group went on a fishing expedition and attacked. 

Armed men attacked the fishermen, robbing them of their vessels and engines. The men were beaten and tied before being thrown overboard. The engines were later recovered in the Sea Lots area.

A person of interest in the investigation, Akani 'Dole' Adams, was killed by police during an altercation in the Sea Lots area. Police suspected that he may have been involved in the incident. 

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