Pakistan hangs 7 convicted militants as Kerry visits: Officials
Islamabad: Pakistan on Tuesday hanged seven convicted militants, officials said, raising to 16 the number of executions carried out since it lifted a six-year moratorium on the death penalty in December.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the moratorium in the aftermath of a brutal Taliban assault on a school in Peshawar that left 150 dead, including 134 children.
The executions, which were carried out across the country, came as US Secretary of State John Kerry visits Pakistan where he has pledged to boost security and intelligence cooperation for Islamabad's fight against militancy.
Officials in four Pakistani jails confirmed that the hangings took place early Tuesday morning amid tight security. One of the militants, Zulfiqar Ali, was convicted of killing two policemen during an attack on the US consulate in Karachi in 2003. An official in Rawalpindi's Adiala jail, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed his hanging.
Shuja Khanzada, home minister for Pakistan's Punjab province, added two men, Mushtaq Ahmed and Nawazish Ali, were executed in the central city of Faislabad for a 2003 assassination attempt on former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
Mumtaz Ahmad, a prison official in southern Sindh province, added, "Three persons convicted in sectarian killings were hanged in Sukkur."
Those executed were militants belonging to the banned anti-Shiite organisation Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), former known as Sipah-e-Sahaba, and were named as Shahid Hanif, Talha Hussain and Khalil Ahmad.
They were convicted for assassinating Syed Zaffar Ali Shah in 2003, who was at the time working as a senior official in Pakistan's defence ministry.
Another senior prison official said one more militant, Behram Khan, was hanged in Karachi for the killing of a lawyer.
The United Nations, European Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on Pakistan to re-impose its moratorium on the death penalty. Rights campaigners say Pakistan overuses its anti-terror laws and courts to prosecute ordinary crimes.