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Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has appointed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as minister of the interior.

Prince Mohammed, who is in his early 50s, replaces his uncle, Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, less than five months after he took up the post.

A decree said Prince Ahmed – one of the king’s half-brothers – was relieved of his position “at his own request”.

Prince Mohammed has for years been responsible for counter-terrorism activities at the interior ministry.

He is seen by Western powers as having effectively led the crackdown on Islamist militants ( Al-Qaeda ) in the Gulf state since 11 September 2001.

In 2009, the prince was targeted by a suicide bomber from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but escaped with only minor injuries.

He served 13 years as assistant minister under his father, Crown Prince Nayef, who was interior minister for 37 years until his death in June, and was then promoted to deputy minister under Prince Ahmed.

Analysts said he was seen as too young to jump ahead of his uncle.

BBC

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