Confusion erupts after a 'small, drone-type' object was apparently shot down near the king's palace in Saudi Arabia

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  • Confusion abounded in Saudi Arabia on Saturday after reports of heavy gunfire near the Royal Palace in Riyadh.
  • The commotion initially sparked concerns of an attempted coup, but media outlets reported that the gunfire was from a toy plane or drone being shot down.
  • The drone was reportedly deployed without authorization, and got too close to the palace.

Confusion erupted on Saturday following reports of heavy gunfire near the Royal Palace in Saudi Arabia.

Media outlets quickly tamped down rumours of an attempted coup, and reported that the gunfire was from a toy plane or drone being shot down after getting to close to the palace.

The Wall Street Journal cited a source saying it was unclear whether the drone represented a legitimate threat or not.

The Saudi Press Agency said in a statement that a “small, drone-type remote-controlled recreational aircraft” was deployed “without being authorised to do so, which required security personnel at the security point to deal with them in accordance with their orders and instructions in this regard.”

The agency added that an investigation into the apparent drone was underway. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry told drone enthusiasts to get permission before flying until it issues formal regulations, Reuters reported.

King Salman was not inside the palace during the incident, one senior Saudi official told Reuters.

Earlier, there were several unconfirmed reports and videos posted to social media purporting to show heavy gunfire near the king’s residence in Riyadh, the capital city.

The apparently heavy-handed response to the drone isn’t unusual in Saudi Arabia – Shiite rebels and their allies in Yemen have used drones against a Saudi-led coalition.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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