SIX armed pirates fired three shots to force a couple aboard a fishing vessel to hand over $9,500 worth of cash and valuables early yesterday. The incident off Fung Wong Wat in the Tolo Channel provoked fishermen's associations to seek more patrols by Marine Police. Sixty-year-old Lee Tai-chai and his wife So Sai-lan, 53, were heading out fishing at about 6 am when they saw an unnumbered seven-metre-long speed boat approaching. One of the men on board fired two shots in the air and ordered Mr Lee to stop his vessel. When Mr Lee slowed down, but did not stop, a shot was fired at the vessel, piercing the right-hand side of the hull. Mr Lee became frightened and stopped. He saw that two of the pirates had shotguns. ''Five of them jumped onto my boat. Three who were not carrying guns held my wife and the other two hit me on my head and in the stomach with the butts of their guns,'' Mr Lee said. ''They pointed the guns at us and told us to get down on our knees. ''They told us to give them all of our money and valuables or they would tow our boat to the mainland,'' he said. Mr Lee said the men spoke Cantonese with an accent from the Guangdong district of Yang Jiang. He and his wife handed over $6,000 cash, two rings and a watch. The pirates then fled towards Mirs Bay. The couple reported the incident to the Marine Police as soon as the pirates left and three marine launches and a Government Flying Services helicopter were deployed to the scene but missed the speedboat. Detective Inspector Lee Ying-wai, the officer in charge of Team Four of the Tai Po District, said he was not sure what type of gun was used but the marks appeared to be lead pellets from a shotgun. The pirates were said to be aged between 25 and 30 and were not wearing uniforms, unlike those involved in a previous incursion last year. Mr and Mrs Lee were not injured and the case is being handled by Tai Po police.