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Saudi governor: illicit weapons plentiful
( 2003-08-22 10:55) (Agencies)

Weapons smuggling from Yemen to Saudi Arabia is so commonplace that border police seize smuggled guns nearly every hour, the governor of a Saudi border province was quoted as saying Thursday.

Saudi Arabia has often complained about smuggling from Yemen, a tribal country where illegal weapons trading is rampant and government crackdowns have had limited success.

"We intercept, on an average of every hour, weapons smuggling operation at the Yemeni border," Prince Mohammed bin Nasser, Jazan governor, told the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat. "This is an alarming phenomenon."

Yemen, a hotbed for militancy and the ancestral home of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, has seen several terrorist attacks, including the USS Cole bombing in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors. It has since joined the U.S.-led war on terror.

Last week, Saudi police arrested at least 11 suspected militants and seized a large weapons cache in Jazan, Saudi dailies reported. The two countries signed an agreement on June to coordinate border surveillance.

Anti-terror raids in Yemen and Saudi Arabia followed repeated calls by the United States to do more to curb Islamic militancy following the Sept. 11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis.

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