Royal guards detained Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a brother of King Salman, and the monarch’s nephew Prince Mohammed bin Nayef on Friday after they were accused of plotting a palace coup aimed at unseating the crown prince — heir to the Saudi throne — an Arab official and a Western official told AFP.
Prince Nayef’s younger brother, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef, was also detained, they added.
A number of military and interior ministry officials accused of supporting the coup plot had also been rounded up, the Western official said, citing Saudi government sources.
“With this purge, no rivals remain to stop the crown prince’s succession to the throne,” he said.
The detentions raised speculation about the health of the 84-year-old king and whether the crown prince’s succession to the Arab world’s most powerful throne was imminent.
But another source close to the Saudi leadership told AFP the “king is healthy and fine” and the detentions were meant to enforce “discipline” within the royal family.