RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian security forces said they had shot down a recreational drone in the capital Riyadh on Saturday after online videos showed gunfire in the neighbourhood where royal palaces are located, sparking fears of political unrest.
The spokesman of the Riyadh police, quoted by the official Saudi News Agency (SPA), said one of the security screening points noticed the flying of an unauthorized small recreational drone at 7:50 p.m. local time (1650 GMT), leading the security men to deal with it according to their orders and instructions.
King Salman was not at his palace in Riyadh at the time, a senior Saudi official told Reuters.
“The king was at his farm in Diriya,” the official said, naming another area of the capital.
Footage circulating earlier on social media showed loud shooting that lasted for at least 30 seconds, leading to speculation online about a possible coup attempt and questions about the whereabouts of the king and crown prince.
One video showed at least two police cars parked in the middle of the street. Reuters was unable to independently verify the videos’ authenticity.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has witnessed a series of radical political changes over the past year as the king’s son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, ousted his cousin as crown prince and then jailed senior royals in an anti-corruption sweep.
Prince Salman returned from a month-long foreign tour earlier this month.
The senior Saudi official said a system would be put in place to regulate the use of recreational drones.
Reporting by Rania Elgamal, Stephen Kalin and Sarah Dadouch; editing by Andrew Roche and Daniel Wallis