Who shot dead the Saudi monarch’s chief bodyguard?
The so-called Keeper of Kings is reported to have been killed in ‘personal dispute’ - but not everyone is convinced
The chief bodyguard of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud has been shot dead by a friend following a “personal dispute” in which the attacker was also killed, according to authorities.
The incident comes as the kingdom faces serious setbacks in its military intervention in Yemen, where Houthi rebels claim to have detained thousands of Saudi soldiers and officers in a series of attacks. Rebels says they have killed a total of 500 soldiers and captured a further 2,000, The Guardian reports.
The killing of bodyguard Major-General Abdul Aziz al-Fagham - referred to as the “Keeper of Kings” by Saudi paper Okaz - has further shocked the nation, sparking heartfelt tributes on social media.
Fagham was visiting a friend on Saturday night when he reportedly got into an argument with Mamdouh bin Meshaal al-Ali.
Ali left the house, in Jeddah, and returned with the gun with which he shot Fagham. Ali was then shot dead by authorities after failing to surrender, according to a statement.
Seven people were injured in the gunfight, including five members of the security forces, the owner of the house, and a Filipino domestic worker named as Jeffrey Dalfino Sarpuz Ying. All were hospitalised but were reported to be in a stable condition.
Why is it important?
Fagham was widely seen as the king’s closest and most trusted personal protection officer, and had previously served as bodyguard to the late King Abdullah.
Tributes on social media described Fagham as a “hero” and “guardian angel”, says the BBC.
However, his death has led to speculation about an intrigue involving the Saudi royals, including claims that Fagham may have been recently dismissed from the king’s service because he held information relating to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Times refers to unconfirmed reports that Fangham’s killer was the son of Meshaal al-Ali, a key member of the Kingdom’s Shura Council, the formal advisory body to the monarchy.
The Alis are related to the royal family by marriage, the newspaper adds.