RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Wednesday beheaded two citizens convicted of drug trafficking, bringing to 94 the number of executions carried out in the kingdom so far this year.
Awadh al-Atwi and Mussalam al-Qaraani were executed for trafficking "narcotic pills" and possessing hashish in the ultra-conservative kingdom, said an interior ministry statement carried by the official SPA news agency.
The latest beheadings in the northwestern region of Tabuk come despite fierce criticism from rights groups over a surge in executions this year.
Read: Indian beheaded in suspected ritual seeking better harvest
According to an AFP tally, 94 Saudis and foreigners have been put to death so far in 2015, compared to 87 in all of last year.
"Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
"The current surge in executions in Saudi Arabia is yet another stain on the kingdom's human rights record," Whitson said in a statement on Monday, calling for a halt to the "cruel punishment."
Rights experts say that according to international law if capital punishment is imposed at all it should only be for murder.
Under the conservative kingdom's strict Islamic sharia legal code, drug trafficking, rape, murder, armed robbery and apostasy are all punishable by death.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ