Heavy gunfire, explosions reported from vicinity of royal palace in Riyadh
Heavy gunfire and explosions has been reported from outside the royal palace in Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh.
According to eyewitnesses gunfire can be heard in the vicinity of the palace late on Saturday night.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has reportedly been evacuated from the compound to a bunker at an air force base in Riyadh.
The number of assailants, their identity or affiliation has still not been identified.
Some sources claim that the attack is part of a coup led by Saudi royals who are opposed to king Salman, while other reports indicate that the shooting occurred when the palace guards targeted a small drone which came too close to Salman’s residence.
Following the footage’s circulation, a senior Saudi official claimed that the incident occurred when troops opened fire at a toy drone in Khozama district, where royal palaces are located.
A statement was also released via state news which said that troops had spotted a drone and “dealt with it according to their orders.”
Security around Saudi royal palaces has been bolstered over the past few months as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman oversees Riyadh’s economic overhaul, dubbed Vision 2030.
According to the Saudi Interior Ministry, last October an attacker killed two Saudi guards and injured three others at the gate of the royal palace in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
Security forces killed the gunman, identified as a 28-year-old Saudi national armed with a Kalashnikov and three grenades.
The kingdom is also embroiled in a long running conflict in its southern neighbor Yemen, dubbed by the United Nations as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured since March 2015.
The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.