SAUDI ARABIA

Live murder or online flights of fancy?

According to certain Web users, this violent scene takes place at the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They claim it shows Saudi border patrol guards shooting at a van of Yemeni smugglers until it bursts into flames, while a group of onlookers laugh at the scene.

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According to certain Web users, this violent scene takes place at the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They claim it shows Saudi border patrol guards shooting at a van of Yemeni smugglers until it bursts into flames, while a group of onlookers laugh at the scene.

The video, which began circulating on the Web on August 27, is described by many bloggers as proof that Saudi police care nothing about the lives of Yemeni smugglers. But that may not be the real story behind the video…

Our Observer in Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Al-Saeedi, says the video probably filmed a military training session, with guards shooting at an empty van. Several details on the video give credit to this hypothesis: first, what smuggler in his right mind would deliberately stop his car in front of a fortified border patrol camp? A loud cannon blast at the 21st second of the video appears to signal the beginning of the military exercise. Although you do see the car stop and start again, you also hear that gunshots stop at the 39th second, then someone asks if the rope was hit. According to our Observer, this refers to the rope that was used to keep the driverless car on course. The rope may have been hit a stray bullet. The presence of several soldiers and border police (in red berets) standing by and watching also seems to give credence to the hypothesis of a supervised training session. Finally, no one ducks or runs for cover when the van approaches. Given that smugglers are usually heavily armed, this would have been strangely careless of onlookers had they believed the vehicle to might contain smugglers.

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