KOTA KINABALU: Four heavily armed gunmen clad in army fatigues went on a robbery spree in waters off Tg Labian, some 135km from Sabah’s east coast town of Lahad Datu on Sunday.
The suspected pirates were believed to be armed with at least three M16 rifles.
It is learnt that four anglers, a teacher and this three friends, were robbed of three outboard engines close to Sungai Bilis at about 11pm.
A police general operations force patrol team came across the anglers paddling back to the coast at about 1am yesterday (Monday).
A police report was lodged over the incident which officials said involved three separate incidences.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib confirmed the incidents yesterday, adding that no shots were fired and none of the anglers were hurt.
It is learnt that senior Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) personnel and police officers are in the area to get more details from the victims to ascertain the origin of the pirates.
Various security agencies have immediately stepped up patrols in the area in a bid to track down the pirates who could have fled across the border.
Simunul island in the southern Philippines is only 30 minutes away by speedboat.
Tanjung Labian, including Sungai Bilis, was the centre of mop up operations by Malaysian security forces to flush out Sulu gunmen who had fled to the area following the March 1 shootout last year in neighbouring Kampung Tanduo.