Saudis report dozens dead battling infiltrators from Yemen

Friday, June 13, 2003

ABU DHABI 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 killed over 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 mostly from Yemen 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.

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