Saudi state media dismissed rumours of political unrest in Riyadh after unconfirmed reports of clashes and gunfire near the royal palaces circulated on social media.

Security forces on Saturday night shot down a small drone flying over the capital’s Khozama district.

Thirty seconds of gunfire can be heard on amateur videos, prompting fears of an attempted coup as social media users questioned the whereabouts of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Ghanem Al Masarir, a London-based Saudi activist, said on Twitter that according to sources in the Royal Court “an attempted coup by officers loyal to deposed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef” was underway. Mr Al Masarir claimed that King Salman was moved to the King Khalid Military City in northeastern Saudi Arabia.

Mr Al Masarir tweets sparked controversy, prompting many users to dismiss his claims, saying they believed a drone had simply flown too close to the palace, prompting security officials to open fire.

Hassan Al Sajwani, a prominent Emirati writer, claimed the video was fake.

“There is no coup attempt in Riyadh and the clip published is a fake clip. The sound is dubbed on the same clip differently, watch the same visuals with birds humming at night.”

In 2015, the Saudi civil authority banned the use of remotely controlled drones of all “types and sizes” without prior permits.

“Please don’t make the subject into a big issue, a man was using an unlicensed drone that got close to a sensitive area and security men had to shoot it. Simple,” said Omar Al Jaaeman, a presenter on Abu Dhabi Sports Television on Twitter.

The government ruled out any major security breach, adding that an investigation had been launched into the incident.

Nasser Weddady, a Middle East consultant said on Twitter that “if there was a real coup in the Kingdom, then the internet would be down, the sky would be “buzzing with helicopters and no one would be able to come near the royal palace.”

State media said the Kingdom subsequently instructed drone enthusiasts to obtain permission to fly the devices.




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