Soldiers, Gunmen Exchange Fire In Border Town; Guerrillas Seize Small Plane
PARAMARIBO, Suriname (AP) _ Shooting broke out Tuesday between soldiers and suspected rebels in eastern Suriname and one soldier was wounded, an army spokesman said.
Officials also reported that in the past week, gunmen shot at soldiers from a single-engine aircraft and guerrillas seized a small twin-engine plane, capturing the pilot.
Maj. Badrassein Sital said soldiers at Albina, on Suriname’s border with French Guiana, exchanged gunfire with unidentified gunmen. He gave no details.
Sital also reported that on Monday gunmen in a single-engine aircraft flew over Albina, shooting at soldiers in a military post, who fired back.
Rebel leader Ronny Brunswijk’s group known as Jungle Commando is based near Albina, on Stoelman Island on the Maroni River, which separates the two South American nations.
Sital said a 12-seat Crown Air plane was hijacked by guerrillas Thursday in a village in central Suriname.
A civilian pilot, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday he sighted the hijacked plane on Stoelman Island.
The plane’s pilot, Ernst Loor, is still being held by guerrillas, a Crown Air official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said Loor was allowed to call his company on the plane’s radio Tuesday and said he was in good health.
The plane flew to Botopasi village, about 150 miles south of Paramaribo, to pick up a group of seven Dutch and Surinamese tourists after one of their two canoes sank. Four guerrillas hijacked the plane after it landed. The tourists returned to Paramaribo by boat and car.
Brunswijk’s Jungle Commando has waged guerrilla war against Suriname’s 5,000-man army since 1986. Brunswijk and the government agreed to a cease-fire in July, but several skirmishes have taken place since then between soldiers and gunmen believed to be renegade rebels.
Suriname, with a population of 400,000, became independent from the Netherlands in 1975.