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Saudi Prince Dies in Helicopter Crash Near Yemen Border

Saudi Arabia arrests 11 princes, including billionaire, in corruption crackdown

The crash comes after Saudi Arabia on Saturday intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile near Riyadh's global airport after it was sacked from Yemen, in an escalation of the kingdom's war against Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

Saudi authorities arrested at least 11 princes, several current ministers and dozens of former ministers in a sweeping move reportedly created to consolidate power for the son of King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. Some of them are potential rivals or critics of the crown prince, whose purported anti-corruption sweep sent shockwaves across the kingdom Sunday as he further consolidated power.

The announcement of the arrests was made over Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network whose broadcasts are officially approved. It also sends a message that the crown prince has the full backing of his father, King Salman, to carry out sweeping anti-corruption reforms targeting senior royals and their business associates, who have always been seen as operating above the law.

Saudi Arabian investment firm Kingdom Holding said on Sunday it had the support of the country's government after billionaire chairman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was detained overnight. However, he says a suspect's position or status will "not influence the fair application of justice".

The statement did not specify further what alleged crimes had been committed.

Other people detained in the probe include former finance minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, a board member of national oil giant Saudi Aramco; economy minister Adel Fakieh, who once played a major role in drafting reforms; former Riyadh governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah; and Khalid al-Tuwaijiri, who headed the Royal Court under the late King Abdullah. Phone lines to the hotel have been cut off since Sunday morning.

A Saudi official told The Associated Press that other five-star hotels across the capital were also being used to hold some of those arrested.

News of the purge came after King Salman decreed the creation of a new anti-corruption committee chaired by Prince Mohammed, his 32-year-old son, who has swiftly amassed power since rising from obscurity less than three years ago.