Reports: Saudi Prince, Gov’t Officials Dead in Helicopter Crash
Middle Eastern news outlets are claiming an aircraft carrying Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, deputy governor of the Asir Region, and several other Saudi government officials crashed near the provincial capital of Ahba Sunday.
Sources were initially conflicted as to whether the group was traveling by helicopter or plane, but were agreed that all aboard were killed. Lebanon’s LBC Group, for example, reported a helicopter, and obtained photographs of the wreckage. The English edition of Saudi government-owned Al-Arabiya News later affirmed this determination. Saudi News 50, posted a video of wreckage of what they refer to as a plane on Twitter:
— أخبار السعودية (@SaudiNews50) November 5, 2017
The Asir Region, of which Mansour was the deputy governor, borders Yemen, whose Houthi rebels, sworn enemies of the Saudi government and allies of Iran, are suspected in an attempt at a missile attack at King Khalid International Airport outside Riyadh this Saturday. No reports of foul play were forthcoming for this incident.
Prince Mansour was not, by all reports, caught up in the Kingdom’s sweeping anti-corruption investigations. Middle East expert Micheal Horowitz, for example, was quick to tamp down talk the deaths could be tied to those arrests on Twitter:
Hate to break the conspiracy theory hype but this Prince does not seem important enough to take out (unless I am mistaken on who he is)
— Michael Horowitz (@michaelh992) November 5, 2017
In addition to his role as deputy governor, Mansour served as an advisor at the Court of the Crown Prince, a important central government body in the Kingdom. He is one of 14 children of Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, who briefly served as crown prince, the second most powerful position in Saudi Arabia, and was the director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency from 2005-2012. Prince Muqrin is a central member of the ruling House of Saud and was once considered a contender for the throne.
The identities of the other officials killed are not yet clear, but Horowitz, citing Saudi outlets, claimed they numbered seven. Some sources referred to them as important officials in the Asir regional government.