Bodies of 20 Bangladeshi fishermen found

Dhaka, April 2 (IANS) Bangladesh Coast Guard Tuesday said they recovered the bodies of 20 fishermen who were killed by pirates about a week ago near Kutubdia, an island off the coastal town of Cox’s Bazaar in southeastern Bangladesh.

“Twenty fishermen’s bodies have so far been retrieved from the bay of Bengal,” Lieutenant Commander Abdullah Yusuf, Operation Officer of the Coastguard’s Chittagong Zone, told Xinhua.

He said 17 bodies were recovered Tuesday, bringing the toll to 20 after three bodies were found Monday.

Quoting a fisherman who narrowly escaped the attacks with three others, he said at least 33 fishermen sailed out in two boats on March 25 from Kutubdia island under Cox’s Bazaar district, some 390 km southeast of capital Dhaka.

They were attacked by pirates March 26, he added.

According to the fisherman, Yusuf said the pirates dumped the bodies in the Bay of Bengal most likely to steal the boats and their valuables.

He said there were no specific details so far regarding the deaths of the fishermen whose decomposed bodies were found floating with hands and feet tied in the deep sea.

Yusuf said most of the bodies were recovered in a sea area which is about 50 km away from Kutubdia Island, also very close to Rambree Island of Arakan State of Myanmar.

Coast Guard crews who recovered the bodies with support of the local boatmen are still searching for the missing fishermen, he said.

Bangladesh in August last year launched a joint air and naval operation against pirates in the Bay of Bengal in an effort to rescue 50 fishermen who were captured by Bangladeshi pirates when they were fishing in the Bay close to the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.

Officials say this is the first time when such mass killings by pirates have occurred in Bangladesh sea territory, although kidnapping for ransom by armed pirates with sophisticated weapons and boats occur occasionally along the South Asian country’s estuaries where hundreds of thousands of fishermen are reliant on catching fish.

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