Terming journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death a "tremendous mistake", Saudi Arabia on Sunday said it was not aware where his body was.
In an interview to Fox News, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the Saudi leadership initially believed Khashoggi had left its diplomatic mission in Istanbul, where he was last seen on October 2.
But after "reports from Turkey", Saudi authorities began an investigation, which revealed "he was killed in the consulate."
"We don't know, in terms of details, how. We don't know where the body is," Jubeir said.
As of now, 18 Saudi suspects have been taken into custody in connection with the incident and two senior Saudi officials fired.
"The individuals who did this, did this outside the scope of their authority. There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up," Jubeir said.
"That is unacceptable in any government. These things unfortunately happen. We want to make sure that those who are responsible are punished, and we want to make sure we have procedures in place to prevent it from happening again."
Jubeir insisted, however, that the operation was not ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, despite reports tying some suspects to members of the de facto ruler's security detail.
"This was an operation that was a rogue operation, this was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding their authorities and responsibilities they had; they made a mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate and they tried to cover up for it," he said.
Meanwhile, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Donald Trump agreed in telephone talks on Sunday that the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul needed to be clarified.
"The two leaders agreed that the Jamal Khashoggi case should be clarified in all its aspects," a Turkish presidential source said.
(With agency inputs)