THE Anti-smuggling Task Force has asked for more firepower and faster boats as part of an urgent review of its tactics to combat an escalation of armed violence by smugglers. Police Commissioner Li Kwan-ha and Deputy Director of Operations Brian Wigley met Marine Police chiefs yesterday following the 100-round shootout between the task force and smugglers on Wednesday night off Sai Kung. It was the first time the police unit of the force had come under fire by smugglers. A Royal Navy fast pursuit craft was shot at four times on New Year's Eve before smugglers escaped to Chinese waters. In Wednesday night's incident, smugglers fired about 35 shots from an automatic weapon. Police returned 50 rounds from an MP5 sub-machine gun and 18 rounds from standard police issue Smith and Wesson heavy-barrel revolvers. Two officers were injured, not by gunfire but after falling from their boat during the high-speed chase on choppy seas. Senior Inspector Ben Fander was released from hospital yesterday after treatment for bruising and Chief Inspector Bruce Hawkins was in fair condition last night. Senior Inspector John Fairgrieve, who was in charge of the other police boat involved, knows only too well that his colleague could be lying in hospital with a bullet wound rather than an injury to the neck. He wants to see faster boats and greater fire power. ''It's cat and mouse,'' he said. ''You improve your tactics and they improve theirs. ''Smugglers will only stop smuggling when they know the risk of being caught is too great.'' The task force's chief of operations Superintendent Matt Corker said it was now necessary to re-think the tactics being applied. ''We always knew this would happen, but when it does it's still a hell of a shock. ''This incident showed that we do not have the right weapons,'' added Senior Inspector James Mather, the officer in charge of the police speedboat which came under fire. ''Until we get the right weapons we will not stop the boats. ''We have to be better than them, not the same,'' he said. Commissioner Li was told what the task force wanted in terms of more firepower during yesterday's meeting with Mr Wigley. Mr Wigley said he was worried about the sudden use of firearms. ''This was an extremely disturbing incident and we (Cont'd from Page 1) must hope that it is not a trend of escalation,'' he said. ''If it is, then we must be sure our methods and tactics are adequate and that is what we are doing. ''This is not the sort of thing that can be solved in five minutes, it's a very difficult situation.'' Mr Corker said the task force needed to be equipped with purpose-built speedboats to out-pace the smugglers. The Government is still considering a request for three $4 million vessels which would replace the force's existing pursuit craft - captured and reconditioned smuggling boats. ''We have identified the type of boat we want but whether we get them or not is still under consideration,'' Mr Corker said. Mr Mather described how as his boat pulled to within 50 metres of the smugglers' speedboat, the first shots rang out. ''The adrenalin is always pumping during a pursuit but the shots meant everyone made sure they were doing exactly what they were trained to do,'' he said. Shots were returned directly at the smugglers' vessel while both the eight-man crew of the police speedboat and the smugglers hid behind their respective steel shields. No shots hit the police speedboat, but it was not known whether the smugglers' vessel was hit. Mr Mather said he chased the smugglers until they headed off for Chinese waters. Two other smugglers' vessels were later spotted, but one again got away. The other caught fire after an engine blew up. Three suspects who dived overboard were arrested. Police believe they have still to crack the last major syndicates using high powered boats to smuggle electrical goods, cars and sometimes criminals and guns. Recent successes as part of ''Operation Disavow'' have slashed the number of sightings but made the smugglers more desperate to avoid arrest. By the end of last year, average monthly police sightings of ''fast moving targets'' had dropped to 162, compared with 584 and 554 per month in 1992 and 1991 respectively. However, the last two months have seen an upsurge in sightings, possibly due to the approach of the Lunar New Year when goods will be in greater demand.