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In Istanbul, Turkish prosecutors investigating Khashoggi's disappearance questioned Turkish employees of the Saudi consulate on Friday, widening the hunt for clues in a case straining Riyadh's alliance with Western powers.

An official familiar with the Saudi operation said: 'There were no orders for them to kill him or even specifically kidnap him.

The kingdom also said 18 suspects were in custody and that intelligence officials had been fired.

Oct 19: Saudi television says that a preliminary investigation has found that Mr Khashoggi was killed during a fist fight at the Saudi consulate.

Eighteen Saudi citizens have been detained in connection with the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Saudi Arabia's state-run news agency. The committee's goal will be to restructure the intelligence services.

US President Donald Trump said the Saudi account of events was "credible" but was cautious not to mention any sanctions against his gulf ally and appeared unwilling to distance himself too much from the Saudi leadership. Saudi Arabia had claimed ignorance of the incident before making this statement.

The disappearance of Khashoggi has provoked global criticism of Saudi Arabia's de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and convulsed the kingdom as it struggles to respond to increasing worldwide pressure to explain the journalist's fate.

Several of the suspects - including members of the crown prince's security detail and a well-known forensics expert - were captured in security camera footage entering the consulate building the day Khashoggi died.

Oct 8: Turkish authorities summon the Saudi ambassador and ask for proof that Mr Khashoggi left the consulate.

The public prosecutor, Attorney General Sheikh Saud al Mojeb, said Khashoggi died after "discussions" at the consulate "developed into an argument".

The White House said in a statement that it had seen the Saudi announcement and would continue to press for "justice that is timely, transparent, and in accordance with all due process".

October 4: On Twitter, the Saudi consulate in Istanbul says it is following up on media reports of Khashoggi's disappearance "after he left the building" of the consulate.

Earlier on Saturday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called on the government to "send a strong signal" to the Saudi government by boycotting the summit. Khashoggi had gone to the consulate to get papers he needed to be married. "The brawl led to his death and their attempt to conceal and hide what happened".

Following the Saudi statement, Australian officials announced their withdrawal from an global investment summit planned in Riyadh. The statement also did not shed any light on what happened to Khashoggi's body after his death.

"The Kingdom and all involved in this brutal murder must be held accountable, and if the Trump Administration will not take the lead, Congress must", Schiff said.

The kingdom at the same time announced the firing of four top intelligence officials, including Maj.

Saud Qahtani, a powerful adviser to the prince, also was sacked.

Arab countries have similarly not commented on the affair.

"I will remain a loyal servant to my country for all times", he wrote in a Twitter post on Saturday.

A protester outside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul earlier this month holding a portrait of Jamal Khashoggi with the caption "Jamal Khashoggi is missing since October 2".