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Pakistan executes two militants days after school massacre

Pakistan executes two militants days after school massacre.

Pakistani forces have targeted the militants behind the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar on Tuesday in which 132 students were killed. Photograph: Mohsin Raza/Reuters.
Hanged men had no links to Taliban assault in Peshawar that killed more than 130 children.

Pakistan executed two prominent militants on Friday, sources said, in a clear response to this week‘s massacre of more than 130 children at a school.
The hanged militants had no links to the Taliban’s assault in the city of Peshawar on Tuesday, but their executions came at a time when a shocked Pakistani society is piling pressure on the government to do more to stem escalating violence.
Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty after the attack and Mohammed Aqeel and Arshad Mehmood were the first prisoners reported hanged under the new arrangements.
The announcement of their deaths came just hours after The UN human rights office appealed to Pakistan to refrain from resuming executions, saying this would not stop terrorism and might even feed a “cycle of revenge”.
“Aqeel alias Usman and Arshad were hanged in Faislabad Jail at 9pm,” a source in a local government in Punjab province told Reuters.
Aqeel, also known as Dr Usman, had been in jail for leading an attack on the Pakistani army headquarters in 2009 in which 20 people were killed. He was a member of the radical sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group.
Mehmood, was arrested for trying to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf.
Four other militants, currently in jail in the eastern city of Lahore, are also expected to be executed in coming days.
The Pakistan government brought in an unofficial moratorium on executions in 2008. Until Friday, only one person had been executed - a soldier convicted by a military court of murdering a fellow officer.
Earlier Pakistani forces killed 59 militants in an ambush in the country’s rugged north west tribal region.
The military said it carried out air strikes and ground operations on Thursday and Friday in the Khyber area.
Ground forces killed 10 militants yesterday while fighter jets killed another 17, including an Uzbek commander. Another 32 terrorists were killed by security forces in an ambush in Tirah valley in Khyber today as they headed towards the Afghan border.
Khyber is one of two main areas in the country’s north west where the Pakistani military has been trying to root out militants in recent months. It borders Peshawar, where the school massacre happened, and militants have traditionally attacked the city only to quickly flee into the tribal region where police cannot chase them.
The other area is the North Waziristan, where the military launched a massive operation in June.
The massacre at the army-run school in Peshawar on Tuesday sickened people around the country and sparked cries for retribution. In the wake of the violence the military has struck targets in the Khyber tribal region and approved the death penalty for six convicted terrorists.
Army chief General Raheel Sharif signed death warrants of the six “hardcore terrorists” convicted and sentenced to death by military courts.
It was unclear when the military planned to hang the six men, but authorities generally move quickly once death warrants are signed. Such executions are usually carried out at prisons under the supervision of army officers and then the bodies are handed over to relatives for burial.
There was no information on the men or the crimes for which they were convicted.
The news comes after prime minister Nawaz Sharif announced on Wednesday that he would lift a moratorium on executions in terrorism-related cases.

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