Saudi police said security forces shot down an unauthorized toy drone in the Khozama district in the capital Riyadh. The police said officers at the area checkpoint dealt with the situation “according to their orders and instructions in this regard” and an investigation is underway.
The statement came hours after social media users started circulating videos that appeared to show heavy gunfire in the upscale (and usually quiet) district that has many royal palaces, including the king’s palace. The videos were soon followed by tweets claiming that a coup was taking place, some of them falsely attributed to the Associated Press.
One of these tweets that were forwarded to me claimed that “Royal Saudi Land Forces (KSA) Lieutenant General Allukas Nepils is leading the military push to oust King Salman.” Anyone who knows Saudi Arabia or speaks Arabic would easily detect that the name mentioned there does not sound real.
Others raised questions about the official statement because the gunfire in the videos sounded too intense if the target was a toy drone as police said, but I think it should not be surprising that a security checkpoint might overreact to a drone near the royal palace. Journalist Danny Gold said he was with Iraqi troops when they were trying to shoot down an ISIS drone and “the pace and amount of fire in the video i just saw sounds consistent to what i witnessed.”
Reuters later reported that the king was spending time at his farm in Diriya and was not at the palace during the incident.