Saudi authorities appear set in the next few days to carry out a series of beheadings across the country of more than 50 men convicted of terrorism offences. Among those facing execution are three young men who were juveniles when they were arrested.

The publication earlier this week of an article in the newspaper Okaz, which has close links to the Saudi Ministry of the Interior, has convinced families of the accused and concerned human-rights organisations that the executions are imminent.

Sources have said that the plan is to behead the men in several cities across the kingdom, most likely after Friday prayers.

Already this year Saudi Arabia has carried out at least 151 beheadings but these would be the first that deal with allegations of terrorism. Last year a total of 90 were executed but none were for terrorism offences. It is believed that seven of the condemned men are Shia from the region of Al-Awamiyah in the oil-rich Eastern Province. Saudi Shia have long protested over discrimination and mistreatment by the Sunni central government.

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