Saudi Arabia breaks off ties with Iran after al-Nimr execution

January 3, 2016, 9:09pm

Iranian protesters set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran on Sunday. Photo: EPA

BBC News

Saudi Arabia says it has broken off diplomatic ties with Iran, amid a row over the Saudi execution of a prominent Shia Muslim cleric.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was speaking after demonstrators had stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others were executed on Saturday. Saudi Arabia found them guilty of "terrorism".

Mr Jubeir said that all Iranian diplomats must leave Saudi Arabia within 48 hours. Saudi Arabia has evacuated its diplomats from Tehran, Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV reports.

Earlier, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that the Sunni Muslim kingdom would face "divine revenge" for the execution - an act which also angered Shia Muslims elsewhere in the Middle East.

Ayatollah Khamenei called Sheikh Nimr a "martyr" who had acted peacefully. Protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran late on Saturday, setting fire to the building before being driven back by police.

Iran is Saudi Arabia's main regional rival - they back opposing sides in the Syria and Yemen conflicts.