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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Saudi prince killed in helicopter crash near Yemen border

Prince Mansour bin Moqren, the deputy governor of Asir province and son of a former crown prince, died on Sunday

Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, left, the deputy governor of Asir province, reportedly died in a helicopter crash. Ryan Carter/Crown Prince Court
Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, left, the deputy governor of Asir province, reportedly died in a helicopter crash. Ryan Carter/Crown Prince Court

A Saudi prince was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash near Saudi Arabia’s southern border with Yemen.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said Prince Mansour bin Moqren, the deputy governor of Asir province and son of a former crown prince, was killed during a routine “inspection patrol of a number of coastal projects west of Abha city”.

The aircraft lost communication in the vicinity of the Reda Reserve while returning to base.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior said that authorities found the wreckage of the helicopter, which was carrying the prince and number of local officials.

It is not yet clear what caused the crash or if any of the local officials survived.

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

On Sunday, the kingdom announced rewards of up to $30 million for information that would help arrest or track down a number of high-ranking Houthi rebel leaders and planners.

The Saudi-led coalition, which includes the UAE, has been fighting alongside the forces of the internationally-recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi against the Houthis since March 2015.

They have driven the Houthis from much of Southern Yemen but the fighting has become bogged down in Taez province and along the Red Sea coast.

For decades, Riyadh backed former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled Yemen from its unification in 1990 until he resigned under pressure in 2012, ceding power to his vice president, Mr Hadi.

But in 2014, Mr Saleh aligned himself with the Houthis, against whom he had fought six wars when he was president. The two now jointly control Yemen's northern highlands and the capital Sanaa.

Compounded by poverty, cholera and looming mass starvation, the war in Yemen has claimed more than 8,500 lives.