Riyadh rejects reports of prince's death in graft purge

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman giving a press conference in Riyadh on April 25, 2016.  (AFP)

Riyadh - 

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday roundly rejected reports that a prominent prince had been killed in a sweeping anti-corruption purge of the kingdom's elite.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd, a son of the late king Fahd, was rumoured to have been killed in custody or while resisting arrest amid the crackdown at the weekend.

The hashtag "death of Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd" has since featured on social media, fuelling fevered speculation online.

"There is no truth whatsoever to rumours circulating in media concerning Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd," an information ministry spokesman said in a statement.

"Prince Abdulaziz is alive and well," he added.

The prince could not be independently reached for comment.

Dozens of high-profile figures including princes, ministers as well as billionaire tycoon Al-Waleed bin Talal were arrested or sacked in the weekend crackdown -- just after an anti-graft commission headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was established.

It was the biggest purge of the kingdom's elite in modern Saudi history.

Separately, on Sunday another prince, Mansour bin Moqren, was reported killed in a helicopter crash near the kingdom's southern border with Yemen. Authorities did not reveal the cause of the crash.

With the purge, which analysts describe as a bold but risky power play, Prince Mohammed has centralised power to a degree that is unprecedented in recent Saudi history.

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