ABU DHABI Ñ Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a bloody struggle to
stop arms smuggling from neighboring Yemen.
Saudi officials have reported frequent clashes between Saudi security
forces and smugglers from Yemen. They said dozens of officers have been
the past few months and huge amounts of weapons have been captured.
Authorities believe that the explosives used in the Al Qaida suicide
strikes in Riyad on May 12 came from Yemen, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said Al Qaida has
forged ties with Yemeni tribes that control arms, drugs and liquor smuggling
across the border with Saudi Arabia.
Maj. Gen. Saleh Al Santali, the commander of a border guard unit at
Jizan, said 36 officers were killed in his area from March 2002 to February
2003. Jizan is near the Saudi-Yemeni border.
Al Santali told the Al Riyad daily last week that Saudi border units
captured nearly 400,000 infiltrators Ñ mostly from Yemen Ñ in 2002. He
said most of the infiltrators were interrogated and returned to Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has launched an effort to secure the 1,500-kilometer border
with Yemen. Riyad and Sanaa intend to demarcate the border and install posts
to control smuggling.
Officials said Yemeni arms smugglers have attacked a German company
hired to demarcate the border. In September 2002, two German nationals and
three Yemenis were injured in an attack.
Yemen has asked Saudi Arabia for help in establishing and training a
border guard. The request was said to have been relayed during Yemeni-Saudi
security talks earlier this week.