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Saudis behead twelfth woman

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Yet another woman - the 12th in less than three years - has been publicly beheaded in Saudi Arabia after a secret trial, writes Robert Fisk.

Bint bin Mohamed Ali, a Nigerian, was executed by sword in a Riyadh market place for allegedly trying to smuggle heroin into the kingdom. Three Nigerian men were charged with her and they, too, have since been decapitated. The four executions - along with that of a Pakistani man - bring to 191 the number of those who have suffered capital punishment in Saudi Arabia this year.

As usual, neither any details of the alleged crimes, nor the hearings of the Islamic courts which condemned the four, have been disclosed by the Saudi authorities.

Saudi trials are often carried out without defence lawyers, and have been widely condemned by human rights groups. A mother and daughter were among the 11 other women beheaded in Saudi Arabia since January 1993.

n Al-Ain - The Filipina maid Sarah Balabagan, embracing her parents for the first time since escaping execution for the killing of her United Arab Emirates employer, said she was confident of being freed "soon". Ms Balabagan said she would never again leave her country to work, Reuter reports.