Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran Sunday in response to damage caused to its embassy in Tehran, as Shi’ites in Iran and across the Islamic world protested the execution by the Saudis of a prominent minority Shi’ite cleric.

The world’s foremost Sunni and Shi’ite nations accused each other of stoking sectarian strife and promoting terrorism.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday executed 47 people accused of terrorism, including al-Qaeda convicts and a Shi’ite cleric and persistent critic of the Sunni ruling family, Nimr Baqr al-Nimr. Beheadings took place in eight cities and execution by firing squad in another four, according to Saudi authorities.

It was not clear whether Nimr – who was based in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province, where the “Arab spring” inspired Shia protests in 2011 – was beheaded or shot. His body was reportedly buried in an undisclosed location.

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