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Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah dies

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Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has died, royal officials have announced, weeks after he was admitted to hospital.

King Abdullah, who was said to be aged about 90, had been suffering from a lung infection.

A statement early on Friday said his 79-year-old half brother, Salman, had become king.

Abdullah came to the throne in 2005 but had suffered frequent bouts of ill health in recent years.

The official announcement from the Royal Court came as little surprise, but this is still a historic and sad moment for this deeply conservative Muslim country, home to the two holiest sites in Islam, at Mecca and Medina, and the world's biggest oil exporter and producer.

As king he pushed through cautious reforms, including giving women a greater public role, against opposition from religious conservatives.

King Salman assumes the throne at a difficult time for Saudi Arabia. Having defeated an Islamist insurgency 10 years ago, the country now finds itself sandwiched between the growing threats from al-Qaeda in Yemen to the south and Islamic State to the north. Both groups have their sympathisers inside Saudi Arabia. (BBC)

Last modified on Friday, 23 January 2015 14:17
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