Two Saudi border guards die in clash with smugglers

Riyadh (ANTARA News/Reuters) - Drug smugglers shot dead two Saudi border guards in a clash along Saudi Arabia`s restive border with Yemen, official Saudi media reported on Saturday.

The clash along a porous border that has seen conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemeni Shi`ite rebels, took place near the Majaza border post in the southern Saudi province of Asir on Friday, the official SPA news agency said.

"Border patrols on a routine reconnaissance operation spotted a group of 15 smugglers who were trying to cross the border for the purpose of trafficking," SPA quoted a border command spokesman as saying.

"When they were warned to retreat to where they came from, they started shooting from several locations."

The smugglers eventually retreated but the spokesman did not say if there were any casualties among them.

Saudi authorities seized 500 kg (1,100 pounds) of hashish after the clash.

The agency also reported that border officers have seized 408 kg of the same drug over the past three days in the southern Jazan province, which also borders Yemen.

Saudi Arabia was drawn into a conflict last year with Yemeni Shi`ite rebels along the border, but Saudi officials use the term "infiltrators" to refer to those rebels.

Tensions between government forces and Yemeni Houthi Shi`ite rebels have returned to the northern part of Yemen, where the border with Saudi Arabia lies, after Yemeni authorities agreed to a truce with the Houthis in February.

The truce helped halt a conflict that has raged on and off since 2004 and displaced 350,000 people.

But instability still threatens Yemen, including from al Qaeda and southern separatist rebels.

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