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Wed 6 Feb 2008 06:06 PM

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800 smugglers captured by Saudi authorities

Smugglers carrying drugs, weapons and explosives detained in three months - report.

Hundreds of smugglers carrying drugs, weapons and explosives were captured by Saudi authorities between October and December, the kingdom's Okaz daily reported on Wednesday.

Over the three-month period border guards seized 100 kilograms of explosives, 400 weapons, 50,000 pieces of ammunition and 100 sticks of dynamite, the newspaper said.

Many of the 800 smugglers detained were Yemen nationals, the paper added.

Saudi's southern border with Yemen stretches 1,200 kilometres and the length of the border and rough terrain make it a popular crossing point for traffickers due to the difficulty authorities have patrolling it.

The paper said border guards also arrested 119 illegal immigrants who crossed the border from Iraq, and seized over 2,000 kilograms of hash, four kilograms of marijuana and 40,000 pills from smugglers.

The Saudi Interior Ministry announced on Monday it had beheaded three foreigners after they were convicted of drug smuggling.

Drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery can all carry the death penalty in the kingdom, and a record 153 people were put to death in 2007.

In December Saudi authorities also announced they had arrested 18 suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists, after they smuggled eight Chinese-made missiles into the kingdom.

Authorities said at the time they had arrested 208 militants involved in terror cells planning attacks on oil facilities and places frequented by Westerners.

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