Executions in Iraq are usually carried out by hanging
Executions in Iraq are usually carried out by hanging © Yoav Lemmer - AFP/File
Executions in Iraq are usually carried out by hanging
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AFP
Last updated: November 18, 2013

Iraq executes 12 terror convicts amid surging unrest

Attacks across Iraq killed eight people Monday as authorities announced they have executed a dozen men convicted of "terrorism" in the face of the country's worst bloodshed in five years.

The violence was the latest in a months-long surge in unrest that has forced Iraq to appeal for international help in combatting a surge in militant attacks.

It comes just months before Iraq's first general election in four years and amid fears the country is on the brink of falling back into all-out sectarian war.

Monday's violence struck across Iraq, from the northern city of Mosul to the town of Hilla, south of Baghdad, as well as in and around the capital.

But the deadliest attacks came near Baquba, which lies north of Baghdad and is one of Iraq's most violent cities, with shootings in the city and nearby towns killing four people, including a Sunni anti-Al-Qaeda militiaman.

Violence in Hilla, Baghdad, and the towns of Madain and Abu Ghraib near the capital left four others dead.

A series of coordinated bombings, apparently targeting a top police chief in Mosul, wounded 13 people, although the officer himself was unharmed, and another bombing in Tikrit wounded a city council chief.

Security officials, meanwhile, claimed to have killed seven militants near the town of Qaim along Iraq's border with Syria.

Officials have warned of spillover from Syria's ongoing civil war affecting Iraqi security, and said Sunni militants opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as those against Baghdad's Shiite-led government, cross the border in both directions to launch attacks.

Monday's violence comes a day after nationwide unrest, including a spate of bombings in Baghdad against markets and cafes, killed 26 people.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, but Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda often set off coordinated bombings across Baghdad, ostensibly in a bid to undermine public confidence in the authorities.

Also on Sunday, Iraqi authorities executed a dozen "terrorism" convicts, defying widespread international condemnation of Baghdad's use of the death penalty.

The latest executions bring to at least 144 the number of people put to death in Iraq this year, compared with 129 for all of 2012, according to an AFP tally based on reports from the justice ministry and officials.

"Yesterday (Sunday), we executed 12 convicts," a senior justice ministry official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"All of them were Iraqi men accused of terrorism."

The official gave no further details about the men or the crimes they were convicted of.

Executions in Iraq, usually carried out by hanging, have increased this year despite persistent international criticism from the European Union, the United Nations and human rights groups urging Baghdad to issue a moratorium on capital punishment.

Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari has insisted that the executions are carried out only after an exhaustive legal process.

The growing use of the death penalty comes with violence in Iraq at a level not seen since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a brutal sectarian conflict.

More than 5,700 people have died so far this year, with the government facing criticism from diplomats and analysts saying it has not done enough to address the root causes of the bloodshed.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has called for Washington's help in the form of greater intelligence sharing and the timely delivery of new weapons systems in an effort to curb the bloodshed.

In addition to failing to stem the bloodshed, authorities have also struggled to provide adequate basic services such as electricity and clean water, and corruption is widespread.

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