IIs hide in homes vacated by army

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 June, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 June, 1996, 12:00am

Illegal immigrants are using empty British military apartments as hideouts after sneaking over the border, it was revealed yesterday.

Gurkhas and military police will now mount weekly patrols to flush out immigrants breaking into the disused flats near Sek Kong base.

The accommodation blocks used by army and RAF families are being emptied gradually as the garrison prepares to leave the territory.

Some of the flats have been vacant for months.

The spacious quarters have three bedrooms and two reception rooms, and hill views.

In January they will be handed over to the Hong Kong Government pending the arrival of the People's Liberation Army.

Wing Commander Barrie Simmonds refused to say how many flats were empty.

But he confirmed that patrols had been introduced in the past few days to deter immigrants from using vacant flats as squats.

The move comes two weeks after three illegal immigrants were caught hiding in a disused apartment.

Sources said there was no electricity or gas. There was also nothing to steal, they added, because all the furnishings had been removed.

Wing Commander Simmonds added: 'We have had problems with unwanted IIs seeking refuge.

'But I have no indication that they are targeting us. They are just opportunistic people on the lookout for empty properties.

'As the winding down continues, more properties will become vacant.

'We've now drawn up lists of empty flats and begun inspections with the military police.

'We started at the weekend and we're now inspecting every empty property every week.' The four-strong patrols will be made up of a key holder, and military police officers and Gurkhas.

The patrols will not be armed or use dogs.

Empty military bungalows in Sek Kong have already been handed back to the Government, which is understood to have its own security guards to keep out squatters.

Under the defence lands agreement, 14 of the 39 military sites will go to the People's Liberation Army, with the rest going to the Hong Kong Government.

Most residents at the Sek Kong base will leave for Britain, Nepal or other foreign postings this year.

Those staying will move to quarters nearer the centre of the city.