Pakistan is to execute 500 “terrorists” after lifting a ban on the death penalty in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre.
Last week, 133 children were killed by gunmen wearing suicide vests at the Army Public School in Peshawar, sparking international outrage and demands in Pakistan for a tougher response to the Taliban.
The day after the attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the moratorium on executions in terror cases.
A senior government official today told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity that Pakistan had “finalised the cases of 500 convicts who have exhausted all the appeals”.
He said the executions would take place in the coming weeks.
On Friday, Pakistan hanged two convicted “terrorists” and another four yesterday. It is only the second time the death penalty has been used since 2008, when a moratorium was imposed.
Officials said the “brutal killers” admitted the killing of 148 people during the school attack was an act that had “finally brought them to the gallows”.
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The Taliban said it will avenge the deaths of the hanged men.
Shuja Khanzada, Punjab’s home minister, told The Associated Press over the weekend: “We have started these executions by hanging two terrorists.
“The executions of terrorists will boost the morale of the nation, and we are planning to hang more terrorists next week.”
Amnesty International have raised concerns about the death penalty after years of allegations of poor police investigations and the use of torture to obtain confessions.
There are an estimated 8,000 people on death row.
David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director, said he was disappointed that the Pakistani government had “given into fear and anger”.
“As horrific as the attack on the Peshawar school was, more killings – this time by the government – is never the answer to combating terrorism and crime,” he added.
Last Tuesday, Taliban gunmen stormed a military-run school and killed 148 people, including 133 children, in an eight-hour siege.
The militants said they attacked the school in revenge for an army operation against them, when the government bombed Taliban hideouts along the Afghan border.
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