Saudi prince killed in helicopter crash near Yemen border

He was understood to be visiting a number of development projects

Saudi prince killed in helicopter crash near Yemen border

Image: Google Earth

A Saudi prince has been killed in a helicopter crash near the kingdom's southern border with Yemen.

Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, the son of the former crown prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz and deputy governor of Saudi Arabia's Asir province, was travelling with several officials when the aircraft crashed.

They were understood to be visiting a number of development projects near the coast in Asir.

The cause of the crash is unknown.

The crash came a day after Saudi Arabia intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile near Riyadh's international airport believed to have been fired by Houthi rebels from Yemen, in an escalation of the kingdom's war against the Iran-backed militia.

The missile launch was the first aimed by the Shi'ite rebels at the heart of the Saudi capital, underscoring the growing threat posed by the conflict in Yemen.

Since 2015 Saudi Arabia has led a coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen.

The Saudis, who back Yemen's internationally recognised government, accuse the Houthis of starting the war.

Hoping for a quick victory against what it saw as Iranian expansionism in its back yard, the Saudis have so far been unable to remove the Houthis from the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

It also came after at least 11 princes and dozens of former Government ministers were detained at the weekend, in a major leadership purge in Saudi Arabia.

Prince Mansour's father Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz was a former director-general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency and a one-time crown prince of the kingdom.

Prince Muqrin was removed as crown prince in April 2015 by 81-year-old King Salman. The crown prince now is King Salman's 32-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman.

Prince Mohammed has been tightening his grip on power through an anti-corruption purge of the kingdom's upper ranks, with dozens of princes, ministers and a billionaire tycoon arrested.

Already viewed as the de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government, Prince Mohammed is widely seen to be stamping out traces of internal dissent before a formal transfer of power from his father.