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.
The English-language edition of Saudi government-owned Al-Arabiya News reported the group was traveling by Blackhawk helicopter on a tour of several infrastructure projects in the region and showed a video of the group boarding the helicopter.
Sources were initially conflicted as to whether the group was traveling by helicopter or plane, but were agreed that all eight officials aboard were killed. Lebanon’s LBC Group, for example, reported a helicopter, and showed photographs of the wreckage. Al-Arabiya News later affirmed this determination. Saudi News 50 posted a video of the wreckage 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 A. 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.