Thirty-two men, armed with firearms and machetes, have been detained by security forces for trying to enter Sabah illegally from southern Philippines.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said the group was arrested about 12 nautical miles off Tambisan in the east coast Lahad Datu district at 2am yesterday.

The men, he said, were now detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) for further investigations, adding that a kumpit vessel, a boat used for barter trading activities, had been towed to Sandakan as part of the probe.