Hezbollah chief denounces 'criminal' Saudi Arabia

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Beirut (AFP)

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday slammed the "criminal and terrorist" government of Saudi Arabia after it executed a prominent Shiite cleric.

The head of Lebanon's powerful Shiite movement also accused Saudi Arabia's ruling Al-Saud family of seeking to spark "a conflict between Sunni and Shiite" Muslims.

"The execution (Saturday) of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr reveals to the world the real criminal, takfiri and terrorist face of Saudi Arabia," Nasrallah said in a speech broadcast on Hezbollah's Al-Manar television.

"This is not something we can ignore," Nasrallah said.

Nimr, 56, was a force behind anti-government protests in Saudi Arabia in 2011 in the east of the country.

He was executed along with 46 other men -- Shiite activists and Sunnis who the Saudi interior ministry said were involved in Al-Qaeda killings. Some were beheaded and others were shot by firing squad.