Saudi king’s bodyguard killed in shooting

September 30, 2019

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MAJ Gen Abdelaziz al-Fagham.—AFP
MAJ Gen Abdelaziz al-Fagham.—AFP

RIYADH: A prominent bodyguard of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has been shot and killed at a friend’s house in what has been described as a personal dispute, according to state media.

Maj Gen Abdelaziz al-Fagham’s death triggered an outpouring of emotions on Twitter, with some condemning the killing of the Saudi ruler’s “guardian angel”.

Maj Gen Fagham, who was frequently seen by the king’s side, died on Saturday evening in the western city of Jeddah, police in Makkah said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

A spokesman said that the gunman was shot dead by security forces, but also that five officers were wounded in the melee that shocked the kingdom, where gun violence is rare.

Police said the trouble broke out when Maj Gen Fagham was visiting a friend who was receiving guests at his home in Jeddah. An acquaintance, Mamdouh al-Ali, entered the residence and an argument ensued.

“The conversation between Fagham and Ali escalated... Ali left the home, came back carrying a gun and fired at Fagham, injuring two others in the household, a Filipino worker and the brother of the house’s owner,” police said.

Ali “refused to surrender” and barricaded himself into the house, exchanging shots with security forces before he was ultimately killed, they said.

The incident was triggered by a “personal dispute”, Al-Ekhbariya state television reported without giving further details.

It added that Fagham died in hospital from his injuries and that an investigation into the shooting had been launched.

The bodyguard, with his tall, slender bearing, was well-known among Saudis and often pictured attending closely to the king. He also guarded the late King Abdu­llah, taking after his father who served under the former ruler for three decades.

The Okaz newspaper said the public took a liking to Maj Gen Fagham from the days when he guarded King Abdullah.

“With this, he gained the leadership’s trust and the love of the Saudis,” the paper said.

“News of the killing has come as a thunderbolt for Saudis, who were deeply saddened by his death,” it said.

The Okaz described him as “the most famous of all the royal guards” and said he was known for his vigilance and tact. It said that he accompanied the king on all his travels, inside and outside the kingdom.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2019