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Saudi embassy attacked in Tehran: news agency

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Angry crowds protesting at Saudi Arabia's execution of a top Shiite cleric hurled petrol bombs and stormed the kingdom's embassy in Tehran on Saturday before being cleared out by police, ISNA news agency reported.

[Tehran] Angry crowds protesting at Saudi Arabia's execution of a top Shiite cleric hurled petrol bombs and stormed the kingdom's embassy in Tehran on Saturday before being cleared out by police, ISNA news agency reported.

The incident came hours after the announcement of the death of 56-year-old cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who had been a key figure in anti-government protests in the kingdom's oil-rich east. The execution prompted strong condemnation from Shiite-majority Iran and Iraq.

Saudi Arabia executed 47 men convicted of terror-related offenses, including the dissident cleric who was critical of the kingdom's rulers.

The punishments were carried out in 10 provinces, Saudi Arabia's interior ministry said in a statement published on Saturday by the official Saudi Press Agency.

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While most of the convicted men were Saudi citizens, an Egyptian and a Chadian national were among those executed. Some of the men were shot by a firing squad and some were beheaded, a ministry spokesman said on Al-Arabiya TV. The men were convicted of crimes including bombings that targeted the traffic department and interior ministry in Riyadh, plots to attack military airports, and other strikes on security forces, the ministry said.

Some of the attacks happened between 2003 and 2006. Those executed were described as promoters of a "deviant" version of Islam, a phrase used by Saudi Arabia for al-Qaeda, Islamic State and other militant groups.

"This sends a message of resolve and firmness in Saudi Arabia's policy of confrontation with its two enemies, mainly al-Qaeda and Iran," Ibrahim Fraihat, senior foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, said in an interview. "It will also increase tensions inside Saudi Arabia because it gives the Shiite community new grievances and symbols to rally around within the country."

The kingdom is cracking down on domestic terrorists, who have staged multiple attacks since Saudi Arabia joined the US coalition against Islamic State in 2014. Saudi security forces arrested 377 people for joining Islamic State, Al-Jazirah newspaper reported in December.

AFP, BLOOMBERG

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