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'Toy drone' shot down by Saudi forces over Riyadh sparks coup fears

Saudi forces on Saturday shot down an unidentified toy drone that hovered over Riyadh. [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 April, 2018

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Saudi forces on Saturday shot down an unidentified toy drone that hovered over a Riyadh neighbourhood home to royal palaces, prompting a security alarm in the capital.

Saudi forces on Saturday shot down an unidentified toy drone that hovered over a Riyadh neighbourhood home to royal palaces, state media said, prompting a security alarm in the capital.

"At 1950 (1650 GMT) a security checkpoint in Khuzama neighbourhood of Riyadh spotted a small remote-controlled drone," the Saudi Press Agency reported.

SPA added that security forces shot down the drone and authorities were investigating the incident.

"Police shot it down. Authorities are investigating the incident."

The statement follows unconfirmed reports on social media of heavy gunfire around royal palaces.

But authorities firmly denied any major security breach.

Security around the royal palaces appears to have tightened in recent months as powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman oversees landmark social and economic reforms to prepare for a post-oil era, despite the risk of riling religious hardliners.

Saudi Arabia is also embroiled in a long running conflict in its southern neighbour Yemen, dubbed by the United Nations as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

At least 10,000 civilians have been killed in the war, with the country facing a cholera epidemic and on the brink of famine.

Last October a gunman shot dead two Saudi guards and wounded three others at the gate of the royal palace in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, according to the interior ministry.

Royal guards killed the gunman, identified by the ministry as a 28-year-old Saudi national armed with a Kalashnikov and three grenades.

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