Iran executes 20 Sunni 'terrorists'

2016-08-04 21:37
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Tehran - Iran said on Thursday that it had hanged 20 "terrorist" Sunni prisoners in one of the Islamic republic's biggest mass executions in recent years.

The men had been accused of carrying out a string of attacks against civilians and religious leaders in Iran's western Kurdish region, state media reported.

Prison terms

Iran's intelligence ministry earlier issued a statement detailing 24 armed attacks between 2009 and 2011, including bombings and robberies, allegedly committed by the group.

It said the extremists had been responsible for the deaths of 21 people in three western provinces during that time.

"102 members and followers of the... terrorist group were identified... some of whom were killed in armed clashes with police forces and some were arrested. Some of those arrested were sentenced to death while some received prison terms," it added.

One of the first plots linked to the group involved giving chocolates laced with poison to police officers and judiciary personnel, although no one was killed.

Prosecutor General Mohammad Javad Montazeri said the convicts, some of whom had come from abroad, followed "takfiri" ideologies, a term Shi'ite-majority Iran uses to describe Sunni jihadists.

In 2009, the group allegedly assassinated two Sunni religious leaders, Mamusta Borhan Aali and Mamusta Mohammad Sheikh al-Islam - a provincial representative of Iran's powerful Assembly of Experts.

Those hanged did not deserve mercy, IRIB state television quoted Montazeri as saying.

Top executioners

"These people had committed murder... killed women and children, caused destruction and acted against security and killed Sunni religious leaders in some Kurdish regions," Montazeri said.

Iran regularly hangs large-scale drug traffickers. Murder, rape, armed robbery and adultery are also capital offences in Iran.

According to human rights group Amnesty International, Iran was one of the world's top executioners in 2015 when it put 977 people to death, mostly on drug trafficking charges.

Amnesty does not include secretive China in its figures, but the number of executions in Iran exceeded both neighbouring Pakistan and regional rival Saudi Arabia.


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