Sat, 04 Jan 2003

Batam haven for weapons smugglers

BATAM, Riau: Being an international gateway and surrounded by many small islands has led to Batam island in Riau province becoming a hotbed for weapons smugglers from Aceh, an intelligence source has said.

The source in Batam said on Friday that security officers had seized some 36 weapons that had been smuggled into the island from Aceh province.

Weapons smugglers utilized the small islands near Batam as entry points to the island, he said.

"We have determined that most of the illegal weapons confiscated so far are from Aceh and our team is conducting intensive searches at the moment," the senior intelligence officer was quoted by Antara as saying on Friday.

Figures issued by the police show that some 80 civilians were arrested for illegal possession of weapons in 2002, and according to the intelligence officer, the figure is expected to increase in 2003. --Antara