State-run news channel Al-Ekhbariya announced the death of prince Mansour bin Moqren, the deputy governor of Asir province and son of a former crown prince. The cause of the crash is not known yet.

A Saudi soldier looks through binoculars at Saudi Arabia's border with Yemen April 6, 2015
A Saudi soldier looks through binoculars at Saudi Arabia's border with Yemen April 6, 2015 (Reuters)

A helicopter carrying a high-ranking Saudi prince and other government officials crashed on Sunday in the kingdom's south near the border with Yemen, reportedly killing all eight people aboard.

The Saudi Interior Ministry said early Monday that the crash happened in Saudi Arabia's Asir province as the official took part in a tour of local projects near Abha, some 840 kilometres (520 miles) southwest of Riyadh.

Security officials gave no cause for the crash but said a search of the wreckage was under way. In Yemen, Houthi officials offered no immediate comment on the crash, while its Al-Masirah satellite news channel reported only that the crash had occurred.

The Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Ekhbariyawhich is based in Dubai, announced the death of prince Mansour bin Moqren, the deputy governor of Asir province and son of a former crown prince.

Prince Mansour was the deputy governor of Asir province and the son of Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, a former intelligence service director and a one-time crown prince of the kingdom. 

Prince Muqrin was removed as crown prince in April 2015 by his half-brother King Salman in favour of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a counterterrorism czar and interior minister.

But in June, King Salman also ousted Prince Mohammed in favor of installing his 32-year-old son, the now-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as first in line to the throne.

News of the crash comes as Saudi Arabia pursues a sweeping purge of the kingdom's upper ranks, with dozens of princes, ministers and a billionaire tycoon arrested as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cements his hold on power.

The crash also comes after Saudi Arabia on Saturday intercepted and destroyed 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.

The missile attack was the first aimed by the Shia rebels at the heart of the Saudi capital, underscoring the growing threat posed by the raging conflict in Yemen.

The attack highlighted how the war in Yemen is increasingly spilling across the border since a Saudi-led coalition began its military intervention there in 2015.

Saudi Arabia led the intervention to prop up the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi after the Houthis forced him into exile.

Hoping for a quick victory against what it saw as Iranian expansionism in its back yard, Riyadh has so far been unable to remove the Houthis from Yemeni capital Sanaa.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies