KOTA KINABALU: Police foiled a bid to smuggle illegal immigrants from southern Philippines following a high-speed chase at sea off the east coast Sandakan district.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said 11 people, including an infant, were held after the boat they were travelling in capsized following a collision with the police vessel early Saturday.
The boatman who was transporting the illegal immigrants died during the incident.
Jalaluddin said six officers from the General Operations Force Tiger Platoon unit were carrying out a long range patrol in waters off Pulau Berhala when they spotted a vessel heading from the direction of the Philippine island of Taganak at about 2.30am.
The police personnel ordered the boatman to stop his vessel but he sped off.
The police officers fired a green flare as both vessels passed through the waters off Pulau Berhala.
The boatman continued to ignore several warning shots from the policemen while speeding towards the direction of Taganak.
Suddenly the boat hit the police vessel causing it to overturn throwing all those onboard into the sea.
Jalaluddin said the police immediately rescued the four males and five females aged between 12 and 25 years as well as the infant.
He said body of the boatman was recovered from the capsized vessel. The rescued passengers were taken to Sandakan.