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Saudi Arabia uncovers Daesh-linked terror network; 17 arrested

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Saudi Arabia's security forces uncovered an Daesh-linked terrorist network that was involved in past attacks in the kingdom and was planning future attacks against civilians, security personnel and government sites, the Saudi Interior Ministry said on Monday.

The terror network was comprised of three cells.

Seventeen suspects, among them one Saudi woman, were arrested in the months-long operation.

Eleven are Saudi citizens, in addition to three Yemenis, two Egyptians and one Palestinian, Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour Al Turki said in a press conference.

Al Turki said the network was involved in preparing suicide vests and improvised explosives, and providing logistics, cover, funding, arms and transportation for terrorist operations inside the kingdom.

The network also communicated "with leaders abroad in all their activities," he said.

The official said the terrorist network was also involved in harbouring two attackers involved in a bombing and shooting in the eastern al-Ahsa governorate against the Imam Reda Mosque.

That attack in January killed two security officers and a civilian, as well as a suicide bomber.

He said the group was also involved in a car bombing against a security officer in the capital, Riyadh, in February, a bombing against a security checkpoint in Riyadh in July 2015, and a failed attempt to bomb an oil pipeline in the governorate of al-Dawadmi.

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Saudi Airlines hijacking at Manila Airport a 'false alarm'

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Update: Saudi Arabian Airlines has confirmed the hijacking of flight SV872 was a 'false alarm', with the incident now resolved.

The Saudi national airline posted the confirmation on its official Twitter account.

The aircraft, with reportedly 300 passengers on board, was flying into Manila from Jeddah.

Following the alarm raised by the pilot, the aircraft was isolated.

According to reports, the pilot of a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight accidentally pressed an emergency alarm, creating a hijack scare and triggering a major security response at Manila airport on Tuesday.

Police and security personnel surrounded the Saudia flight from Jeddah after it landed on Tuesday afternoon following a report to the control tower that the plane was 'under threat', a Philippine aviation authority spokesman told AFP.

Passengers were forced to remain on the plane for about two hours, but were let off about 5pm (0900 GMT) after it was confirmed there was no threat.

"Situation is normal. It was alleged that the pilot pressed the emergency light of the aircraft unintentionally," Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde told reporters.

Manila airport spokesman Connie Bungag earlier released a statement saying the control tower received advice that the plane was 'under threat' as it was 32 kilometres (20 miles) from landing.

She said authorities had implemented standard security operating procedures.

Saudi Airlines plane isolated at Manila Airport, reportedly 'under threat'

Earlier story: A Saudi Airlines aircraft has been isolated at Manila Airport with the pilot reporting the plane was ‘under threat’.

The Philippine Civil Aviation Chief has confirmed a Saudi Airlines plane has been isolated, with no further reasons that are still unclear.

The Control Tower has reported the pilot advised the airport the plan was ‘under threat’.

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Saudi king cuts ministers' salaries 20%

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Saudi Arabia Monday cut the salaries of cabinet ministers by 20 percent and froze the wages of lower-ranking civil servants in an intensified austerity drive to cope with lower oil revenues.

While ministers will have lower salaries, the 160 members of the Shura Council will see a 15-percent drop in their annual allowances for housing, furniture and cars, a royal decree said.

Council members – who include 30 women – are appointed by King Salman to advise the cabinet.

The decree did not say how much money would be saved.

Since 2014 global oil prices have collapsed by more than half, leaving Saudi Arabia with a record deficit last year.

The fall in the kingdom's main source of revenue led to unprecedented subsidy cuts and curbs on government spending.

In April the king's son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, announced the wide-ranging Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy.

The effort also seeks a streamlined, more accountable administration.

Monday's royal decrees ordered the government to "stop providing cars for senior state officials". Telephone expenditure will also be curbed.

But frontline soldiers on the southern border with Yemen will be exempt from a ruling not to grant the military an annual bonus.

Separate cabinet decisions on Monday hit other civil servants.

Any "annual premiums or any financial increases" given when civil service contracts are renewed would be suspended from next week, the cabinet said.

There would be curbs on the amount of overtime pay, while other allowances including for hazardous work would be cancelled, amended or suspended, it said.

Almost twice as many Saudis are employed in the bloated public sector – where hours are shorter and leave longer – than in private firms.

Vision 2030 aims to boost private sector employment, cutting the government payroll to 40 percent of the budget from 45 percent by 2020.

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