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Drop in number of infiltrators in Oman

Coastguards have doubled their efforts to combat the menace

Gulf News

Muscat: A tightened vigil by Omani coastguards along the long coastline has brought down the number of infiltrators sneaking into the country by 17 per cent, according to a Royal Oman Police (ROP) press release.

“Last year we arrested 645 intruders trying to enter by sea compared to 780 in 2011,” said Colonel Badr Bin Khalfan Al Zadjali Commander of the Coastguards in a statement issued by the ROP.

He added that the boosted vigil by coastguards had reduced attempts by human traffickers to drop off infiltrators along the country’s 1,900km coastline, especially along the northern side. “We have had incidents where the boats carrying illegal immigrants have turned back and scooted off as soon as they spot a coastguard patrol boat,” he said.

He also revealed that the Batinah Coast along the northern parts of the country was the most vulnerable and exploited by human traffickers. “We have doubled our efforts to combat infiltrating boats on the Batinah Coast,” he said.

He was all praise for citizens living along the coast for their help in arresting these infiltrators. “Time and again we have honoured such citizens for their bravery in confronting these infiltrators and also in informing police about their movements,” he said.

Colonel Al Zadjali explained that the number of infiltrators trying to enter Oman varied each time. “Some boats carry only four to seven people while some boats carry more than 20 infiltrators at a time,” he said.

Talking about attempts by traffickers to smuggle narcotics via the sea route, Colonel Al Zadjali said that the Coastguard Command had inducted new high-speed boats to counter drug traffickers’ boats. “We are cooperating with various authorities to address this issue.”

He added that coastguards had rescued 49 people stranded at sea last year. “Our unit generally receives SOS calls, mostly from fishermen, during bad weather conditions as people tend to ignore weather warnings issued by the weather department and land in trouble.”