A prominent bodyguard to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was shot and killed in what authorities described as a personal dispute, state TV reported Sunday, offering few details in an incident that shocked the kingdom.
Tributes poured in across social media for Maj. Gen. Abdulaziz al-Fagham, with many including images of the bodyguard at work. One included him bending down to apparently help tie the shoes of King Salman, the 83-year-old ruler of the oil-rich kingdom.
Details remained vague. The first official word of his death came in a single tweet by Saudi state television.
“Maj. Gen. Abdulaziz al-Fagham, bodyguard of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, was shot dead following a personal dispute in Jiddah,” the tweet read.
Hours later, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said a friend of al-Fagham shot and killed him, wounding another Saudi and a Filipino worker. Security forces responded and a gunfight erupted. In it the shooter was killed and five members of the security forces were wounded, the news agency reported.
The daily newspaper Okaz, while offering no details on the shooting that led to his death, described al-Fagham in a headline as: “The Keeper of Kings.”
Officials in the kingdom did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.
Gun crimes are rare in Saudi Arabia, where strict Islamic law sees convicted killers and drug smugglers routinely executed. In 2017, there were 419 reported homicides, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. Saudi Arabia is home to more than 30 million people.