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Saudi border patrol seizes 7000 weapons in 6 months - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Saudi deputy Defence Minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan (3rd right) visits troops in the southwestern province of Jizan near the border with Yemen on November 10, 2009. Source: AFP Photo/STR

Saudi deputy Defence Minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan (3rd right) visits troops in the southwestern province of Jizan near the border with Yemen on November 10, 2009. Source: AFP Photo/STR

Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi border guards have thwarted more than 159,000 attempts to enter the country illegally over the last 6 months, according to the latest statistics issued by the kingdom’s authorities.

Some 3328 smugglers have been prevented from entering the country with a range of contraband items, including small arms and other weapons. According to official statistics, more than 125,000 munitions and 7220 weapons, as well as 98 explosive devices, were seized between mid-November and May of this year.

A large number of drugs, including cannabis, were also confiscated, along with other items that violate international regulations.

As well as contraband smugglers, observers believe that the biggest increases in the number of illegal border crossings into Saudi Arabia has recent years has been driven by economic migrants in search of work.

In addition to this, the country is also unique in terms of cross-border traffic in the number of religious travelers undertaking the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.

In particular, the province of Jizan presents a unique challenge for Saudi Arabia’s border patrol. Despite the fact that it is the smallest of the kigdom’s provinces, the region includes some 80 islands on the Red Sea, and is considered one of the most important tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia during the winter months, receiving a steady stream of visitors.

Given Jizan’s proximity to neighboring countries, the Saudi authorities say it receives a flow of up to 800 intruders per day—more during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. Colonel Abdullah Bin Mahfouz, spokesman for the border security force in the Jizan, said the force use surveillance towers, thermal cameras and wireless devices to secure the borders with neighboring countries.

Another spokesman, Colonel bin Mahfouz, added that border surveillance operations have led to the detention of many infiltrators and smugglers, but the procedures for search and seizure are different in every case.

If it is certain that the individuals are not in possession of any internationally illegal items, and they do have a passport or identity papers, then their fingerprints will be recorded and they will be returned to the point of entry. In the case that they are carrying weapons or drugs, or violating other laws, they will be sent to the relevant Saudi Arabian authority for further investigation.