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Five Malaysian gamblers drown while fleeing police

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Police say five men have drowned in northern Malaysia after leaping into a river to escape a gambling raid.

A police spokesman in Malaysia's northern Kedah state says the men were among 20 suspects who were playing dice games by a river Saturday when police tried to detain them.

He says five men sought to escape by swimming to another village across the river, but a search team found their bodies over the next few hours. Most of them were in their 40s and 50s.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because he was not authorized to make public statements.

Betting and gambling in public without a license is punishable by a six-month prison term and a fine.

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