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Saudi drone enthusiasts to require permit after 'palace incident'

Measure comes after toy drone was reportedly shot down over King Salman's palace in Riyadh, with heavy gunfire.

Authorities in Riyadh have called on drone enthusiasts to register with authorities before operating the aerial devices after a toy drone was reportedly shot down near the royal palace in the capital.

On Saturday, videos posted online purported to show Saudi security forces shooting down the drone near King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's palace, with heavy gunfire.

Riyadh police said security forces responded to an unauthorised, small drone-type toy after spotting it near a security point in the Khuzama neighbourhood.

It was not clear who was operating the device.

A spokesperson for the interior ministry said a framework regulating the use of drones was in "its final stages", state-run SPA news agency reported on Sunday.

The official said drone enthusiasts are expected to apply for a permit that would authorise them "to use drones for the purposes assigned to them in permitted sites from police in their neighbourhoods".

The spokesman said the measure would be temporary until the issuance of the regulation.

An unnamed senior Saudi official told Reuters news agency that King Salman was not in his palace at the time of Saturday's incident.

"The king was at his farm in Diriya," the official said, naming another area of Riyadh.

In October 2017, a gunman drove up to a gate of the king's palace in the Red Sea city of Jeddah and opened fire, killing at least two security guards and wounding three others before being shot dead.

The attacker, who was identified by the interior ministry as Mansour al-Amri, a 28-year-old Saudi national, was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and three Molotov cocktails.


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