ISLAMABAD — Pakistan executed two militants Tuesday who officials said were convicted of terrorism-related offenses by military courts.
The deaths by hanging took place on a day when Amnesty International in a worldwide report noted Pakistan reduced the number of executions by 73 percent in 2016 compared to the year before.
The men were active members of the anti-state Pakistani Taliban and were found guilty of staging deadly attacks on security forces, aid workers and polio vaccination teams, according to an army statement.
The militants were executed at the “high security prison” in the central city of Sahiwal, it added.
Even though the country carried out fewer executions last year, the number of recorded death sentences alarmingly rose to over 360 compared to 121 death sentences in 2015, noted the Amnesty report.
“With at least 87 executions carried out in 2016, however, Pakistan remained among the world’s top executioners,” it said.
Pakistan reinstated controversial military courts in March after a lapse of two months, ignoring opposition by local and international rights groups.
While officials maintain the special tribunals are an “effective deterrent” against terrorism, rights defenders question transparency of the trials because of complete secrecy surrounding military courts as well as suspects tried by them.
Separately, authorities said Tuesday that counterterrorism forces raided a militant hideout in the city of Multan in the early morning and captured seven militants linked to the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the outlawed Pakistani Taliban.
A spokesman for the provincial counterterrorism department in Punjab said the raid also seized hand grenades, explosives, computers and weapons from the suspects' possession.
Officials allege that Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which the United States has also designated as a terrorist group, plots attacks against Pakistan from sanctuaries inside Afghanistan.
This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.