A helicopter carrying a high-ranking Saudi prince and other government officials crashed Sunday in the kingdom’s south, reportedly killing all eight people aboard.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said early Monday that the crash happened in Saudi Arabia’s Asir province as the official took part in a tour of local projects near Abha, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the border with Yemen. Saudi Arabia has been leading a military coalition against Yemen’s Houthi rebels since March 2015.
Security officials gave no cause for the crash, but said a search of the wreckage was underway. In Yemen, Houthi officials offered no immediate comment on the crash, while the group’s Al-Masirah satellite news channel reported only that the crash had occurred.
The Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya, based in Dubai, reported that the crash killed Prince Mansour bin Muqrin and seven others. Prince Mansour was the deputy governor of Asir province.
Prince Mansour was the son of Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, a former intelligence service director and one-time crown prince. Prince Muqrin was removed as crown prince in April 2015 by his half brother King Salman in favor of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a counterterrorism czar and interior minister.
But in June, King Salman also ousted Prince Mohammed in favor of the king’s 32-year-old son, the now-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as first in line to the throne.
All these moves have cemented the young crown prince’s position in power. The arrests late Saturday of dozens of the country’s most powerful princes, military officers, influential businessmen and government ministers in a purported anti-corruption campaign have further cemented his control.