First Published: 2013-04-16


Iraq carries out 21 executions in one day on 'terror' charges


Baghdad carries out 21 executions as growing violence raises further questions about credibility of April 20 provincial elections.


Middle East Online

One-sided view of Iraq reality

BAGHDAD - Iraq put 21 men to death on Tuesday, a senior justice ministry official said, the latest in a series of mass executions that have drawn international condemnation.

All of the men were Iraqis and had been convicted on anti-terror charges, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Twenty-one Iraqis were executed today, according to Article Four of the Anti-Terrorism Law," the official said.

Iraq typically carries out its executions by hanging.

The latest executions brought to 50 the number of executions Baghdad has carried out so far this year, despite widespread calls for a moratorium on the country's use of capital punishment.

Iraq carried out 129 executions in 2012 and Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari insisted last month that Baghdad would continue to implement the death penalty.

The country's executions have sparked concern from the United Nations, as well as from Britain, the European Union and rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Amnesty said in its annual report on capital punishment last week that the use of the death penalty was broadly diminishing around the world, but Iraq remained a black spot.

Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq said last month that it carried out a wave of attacks that eventually left 56 people dead as "revenge for those whom you (the government) executed," referring to a total of 18 executions carried out by Iraq on March 14 and 17.

Growing violence raises further questions about the credibility of April 20 provincial elections seen as a key test of Iraq's stability and its security forces

Bombings in Iraq, including one near a governor's convoy, killed eight people on Tuesday a day after a wave of attacks left 50 dead ahead of the first elections since US troops withdrew.

A car bomb killed four people and wounded 15 in Aziziyah, while a roadside bomb killed a soldier and wounded two near Mussayib, both south of the capital, security and medical officials said.

Three separate blasts north of Baghdad killed three people and wounded eight others, and a roadside bomb exploded near a convoy carrying Nineveh province's Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi near the main northern city of Mosul, though no one was hurt.

Gunmen also attacked a military site northwest of the disputed city of Kirkuk in the north, wounding two soldiers, while two workers on an irrigation project were kidnapped west of the city.

The spate of bombings comes a day after more than 30 attacks killed 50 people and wounded almost 300.

A total of 14 election hopefuls have already been murdered and just 12 of the country's 18 provinces will be taking part in the vote.

Soldiers and policemen cast their ballots for the provincial elections on Saturday, a week ahead of the main vote, the country's first since March 2010 parliamentary polls.

It is also the first election since US troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011.

The election comes amid a long-running crisis between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and several of his erstwhile government partners, which officials and diplomats say insurgent groups exploit by using the political differences to enhance their room for manoeuvre on the ground.

More than 8,000 candidates are contesting 378 seats on provincial councils, with an estimated 16.2 million Iraqis eligible to vote.


Iraq forces fight to tighten noose around Mosul

In Syria, Kurds restore ancient names to Arabised towns

UN call to extend Yemen truce falls on deaf ears

Turkey reports over 35,000 people in detention after coup attempt

In violation of constitution, Iraq parliament votes to ban alcohol

Turkey hits Kurdish group in Syria again

Kremlin aims to 'liberate' Syria with Assad in power

Egypt court upholds 20-year sentence for Morsi

Turkey PM warns EU: Turkey has alternatives!

Battles rage in Yemen despite three-day truce

For second day, Iraq forces clash with ISIS in Kirkuk

New report accuses Syria of chemical attack in Qmenas village

Islamic Jihad stages show of force in Gaza

UN says 'crimes' in Aleppo are 'of historic proportions'

IS sniper kills Iraqi journalist in Kirkuk

US official says coalition should target IS in Raqa after Mosul

Moscow extends Aleppo ceasefire

Italy PM says officials should have voted against UNESCO Jerusalem resolution

Syrian ‘Toy Smuggler’ accused of fraud

UN: IS may use civilians as human shields in Mosul

Armed men attack refugee boat off Libya

US says will work with Turkey to deal IS 'lasting defeat'

Moscow ‘highly concerned’ at jihadists’ refusal to leave Aleppo

Four Palestinians arrested by their security forces for settlement visit

Mauritania president says no change to two-term limit

UN delays Aleppo evacuations due to lack of security assurances

Oman denies reports of arms smuggling to Yemen

Israel looking to buy three more German submarines

83 migrants rescued off Cyprus

Under pressure in Mosul, IS fighters attack Kirkuk

Air strikes hit Yemen rebels despite ceasefire

US officials: Iran boosting arms sales to Huthis via Oman

Iraq forces make gains against IS near Mosul

Arab coalition accuses Yemen rebels of breaching truce

Italian PM blocks EU sanctions threat against Russia over Aleppo

Pentagon chief in Turkey for talks on tensions with Iraq

Israeli occupation troops kill Palestinian teenager

Iraqis flee IS-held Mosul for war-torn Syria

Five years after his death, Kadhafi's 'Green Book' is ridiculed in Libya

Iraq issues warrant for former governor of Mosul

EU leaders threaten sanctions against Assad allies

Syria army urges residents to evacuate Aleppo during ceasefire

British warships shadow Syria-bound Russian naval force

Turkey unexpectedly keeps interest rate steady

British PM urges united EU response to Russia over Syria 'atrocities'