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Regional sources told The Independent on Sunday that the deaths were ordered as part of a feud that threatens the future of the Saudi royal family. The executions went ahead despite international condemnation and calls to spare six Shia prisoners who had been jailed – three as juveniles – under the kingdom’s draconian anti-terror laws. The execution of Sheikh Nimr, ordered by Interior Minister Muhammad bin Nayef, has escalated the sectarian hatred that is tearing the region apart. An internecine power struggle within the ruling family is predicted to affect the country’s relationships with both its neighbours and the West, which holds lucrative arms contracts with Saudi Arabia.