An armed attack took place on the Saudi Royal palace in Jeddah, with two Saudi guards shot dead while three others were injured on Saturday morning when a man drove up to the gate of the palace and began shooting, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by state news.
Royal Guards killed the gunman, identified by the interior ministry as Mansour al-Amri, a 28-year-old Saudi national; he was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and three Molotov cocktails.
Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki told al-Arabiya TV that Amri did not have a criminal record or any known connection to extremist groups.
The attack occurred at a checkpoint outside the western gate to the Peace Palace in Jeddah, where the royal family conducts official business during the summer months, according to Reuters.
Saudi King Salman was not present as he is currently outside the kingdom on a historical state visit to Russia, according to Reuters. The whereabouts of his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were unknown at the time, although recent state news reports have placed him in Jeddah.
An investigation was underway to determine the motive for the attack, according to the Saudi interior ministry.
Earlier on Saturday, the United States Embassy in Saudi Arabia had warned US citizens to exercise caution in the area around the palace after reports on social media of an attack there. “Due to the possibility of ongoing police activity, American citizens are advised to exercise caution when traveling through the area,” the embassy had warned.
Groups such as al-Qaeda and more recently ISIS, have carried out a number of attacks in Saudi Arabia. Attackers have targeted Shia mosques in the country’s eastern provinces where much of its Shia minority is based, as well as security forces. Earlier this week, Saudi police raided hideouts of a “terror” cell linked to ISIS, killing two people and arresting five. In July this year, Saudi authorities said they foiled an attack on the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, which they blamed on ISIS.