State television in Saudi Arabia announced the death of the country's crown prince, Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, on Saturday. Nayef was next in line for the throne behind his brother, King Abdullah.
Quoting a statement from the royal court, Saudi television said the 79-year-old Nayef had "died outside the kingdom." He had been in Geneva as recently as three days ago, where it was speculated that he had been receiving medical treatment.
In his role as interior minister since 1975, Nayef was known as a crusader against al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia after the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001. He also took a considerably harder line than Abdullah, and there was speculation that should Nayef ever take over as king, he would roll back many of the reforms Abdullah had implemented.
He became heir to the throne in October 2011, when his brother Sultan - the previous heir - died.
Abdullah must now name the second successor to the throne in the last nine months. Observers predict that Prince Salman, Saudi Arabia's current defense minister, could get the nod. Salman is one of Abdullah's many brother's and half brothers, who are sons of Saudi Arabia's founder, Abdul Aziz.
mz/pfd (Reuters, AFP, AP)