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11 Saudi Arabia princes arrested after staging protest at king's palace: report

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A state-linked Saudi news website says 11 princes were arrested and will be tried for staging a protest at one of the king's palaces and refusing orders to leave. The Sabq website, quoting unnamed officials, reported Saturday that a division of the National Guard, which is tasked with protecting the royal family, was ordered to arrest the princes.

In addition, the news website reports the royals were sent to Ha'ir prison, a large maximum security facility south of the capital, Riyadh, run by Saudi intelligence services, where criminals, militants and al Qaeda terrorists are held.

Sabq reports the princes were demanding financial compensation from a judgment involving one of their cousins and demanding the king reverse a decision to suspend payments for royals' water and electricity bills.

BBC News writes that the kingdom has roughly doubled oil prices and began a 5 percent tax on most goods and services -- including food and utility bills.

Reuters points out that a drop in crude oil prices caused a budget deficit estimated at 195 billion riyals ($52 billion) in 2018.

Reuters also received a statement from the public prosecutor's office saying that the princes were arrested.

"Despite being informed that their demands are not lawful, the 11 princes refused to leave the area, disrupting public peace and order. Members of a security services stepped in to restore order and the princes were arrested," it read.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, has had a meteoric rise in power, which has caused rare tension within the royal family, Reuters reports.

The Saudi royal family is thought to number thousands, but the wealth and status between them can vary wildly.

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