A group of armed illegal Vietnamese immigrants carrying knives, an ice pick, bullets and explosives were arrested after they arrived in Hong Kong in a five-metre motorised sampan yesterday.
The men, among 14 who arrived early yesterday, were carrying detonators that a police source described as 4cm long and 8mm in diameter.
'Each contains about one gram of explosives and an initial examination shows the detonators were functioning,' the source said.
The illegal immigrants split up into three groups to flee after their wooden boat ran aground at St Stephen's Beach in Stanley and they went ashore just after midnight.
Four were intercepted by beat police after they were found acting suspiciously at a beach barbecue site at 1am. Several knives, hammers and screwdrivers were found on them.
They told officers they were among a group of 14 men aboard the sampan that took them from Vietnam to Hong Kong.
'The four men reportedly told our officers they had just gone ashore at the time of the arrest and they were going to carry out a robbery,' another police source said.
During a search of the area, another five men ran from the first-aid room of a nearby water sports centre. One was stopped and the other four were intercepted after a brief chase.
Police said the men had tied up a 66-year-old caretaker at knifepoint and robbed him of $3,000, a watch and three walkie-talkies inside the first-aid room. The stolen property was recovered.
Officers seized 10 detonators carried by one of the men. The devices were taken by Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau officers for further examination.
After the explosives seizure, a huge search was launched for the remaining five Vietnamese. Roadblocks were set up and a police alert issued.
The last five were caught at Stanley Military Cemetery in Wong Ma Kok Road at 5am.
Officers said three bullets were found on them.
Police said a total of 10 detonators, three bullets, five knives, an ice pick and several hammers and screwdrivers had been seized from the 14 men.
Aged between 22 and 35, the men told investigators they left Vietnam about 10 days ago. Last night, they were being held for questioning in Western.
Police said 198 illegal Vietnamese immigrants had been caught in Hong Kong so far this year.
On May 22, nine Vietnamese were arrested when they went ashore near Lung Mun Road, Tuen Mun. One of them, 21, was shot by a policeman when he allegedly advanced on officers with a knife.
The immigrants on that occasion told officers they had paid between $600 and $1,000 for a journey from the northern coastal city of Haiphong.