KOTA KINABALU: Four heavily armed gunmen clad in army fatigues were involved in a robbery in the waters off Tanjung Labian some 135km from Sabah’s east coast town of Lahad Datu.
It is understood that the suspected pirates, who were believed to have been armed with at least three M16 rifles, robbed four men of their three outboard engines – two 15 horse-power engines and one pump boat engine – close to Sungai Bilis at about 11pm on Sunday.
A police general operations force patrol team came across the fishermen paddling back to the coast at about 1am Monday.
A police report was lodged over the incident which officials state involved three separate sea robberies.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib confirmed the incident.
It is learnt that senior Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) officers and police are investigating if the pirates were from the area or foreigners.
Security agencies have stepped up patrol in the area in a bid to track down the pirates who could be beyond the Malaysian sea border.
Tanjung Labian including Sungai Bilis was the centre of Malaysian security forces operations to flush out Sulu gunmen who fled to the area following the shootout in neighbouring Kampung Tanduo on March 1, last year.