KOTA KINABALU - A homemade fish bomb exploded in a stilt house, killing a six-year-old boy and injuring four other family members.
The father and several others who were making the illegal device then buried the boy and tried to hide the incident from the police.
The 11-member family of sea gypsies were in the house on Pulau Bum Bum, off Semporna on Sabah's east coast, when the blast happened in the wee hours of Wednesday.
Police went there at about 6.30am yesterday after getting a tip-off about the explosion and the family claimed someone had thrown a bomb into their home.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said the 50-year-old father told policemen that someone named "Boy" was the bomber.
But the man later admitted that he and other members of the family were making the fish bomb when it went off accidentally.
He also confessed to burying his son without reporting the incident to the police, said Jalaluddin.
According to the father, the injured family members had sought treatment at the Semporna hospital.
Three other family members have fled and police are looking for them. They are believed to be in Semporna.
Jalaluddin said police were getting a court order to exhume the boy's remains for a post-mortem.
He added that the family did not have any identification papers.
The sea gypsies are Bajau and Suluk people who traditionally lead a nomadic lifestyle, living on intricately carved wooden boats.
Many have now settled in Semporna and nearby islands and still make a living off the sea.
Fish bombs are used to stun or kill fish for easy pickings and is illegal because it damages the surrounding ecosystem.
On a separate matter, Jalaluddin rubbished a claim that intelligence reports were not being shared between police in the state and the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).
He said there were weekly meetings between the two to share information.
A retired Special Branch officer had claimed that police and Esscom were not cooperating.
Jalaluddin also said that police were still coming down hard on cyber gambling activities in the state. They have arrested more than 390 suspects, confiscated 587 computers and seized a total of RM22,295 (S$7,376) in cash, he said.