ALEXANDER BAY, South Africa (AP) _ Police shot down a plot to smuggle diamonds via a carrier pigeon _ killing the bird as it rested while transporting the uncut gems.

Residents in Alexander Bay, a diamond-mining region near the Namibian border, noticed the pigeon Wednesday when it landed wearing a band of tape around its chest, police Superintendent Hendrik Swart said.

Police shot the bird and found six packets of uncut diamonds valued at $11,320.

``The bird probably landed because of exhaustion, because the smugglers wound the tape too tight around it,'' Swart said.

Police don't know where the bird came from.

Carrier pigeons have long been used to smuggle diamonds. Last year, dozens of people were arrested on suspicion they used the birds to smuggle hundreds of uncut diamonds from South Africa's mines.