Arizona border agents becomes victims twice as often in the past year

U.S. Border Patrol agents working the Arizona-Mexico border were victims of twice as many attacks this past fiscal year compared with the previous year, officials say. The Border Patrol's Yuma and Tucson sectors recorded 365 assaults on agents between Oct. 1, 2004, and Sept. 30, 2005, up from 179 attacks reported for the same time period the year before, officials told The Arizona Republic.

Nationwide, agents were assaulted 687 times, up from 349 a year earlier.

Officials say the growing number of attacks reflects the increased influence of criminal gangs and the profits they can make smuggling migrants across the border.

Agents' vehicles are protected against rocks, the most common threat, and the Yuma sector has the first vehicle deployed along the border that can withstand gunfire. There were 45 shooting incidents recorded during the last fiscal year along the Arizona border, up from 15 the previous year, reports the AP. N.U.

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