Jordan hanged 15 death row prisoners including convicted “terrorists” at dawn on Saturday, its information minister said, in a further break with a moratorium on executions it observed between 2006 and 2014.
Ten of those put to death had been convicted of terrorism offences and five of “heinous” crimes including rape, Mahmud al-Momani told the official Petra news agency.
The attorney general for Amman district, Ziad al-Dmour, said the executions represented “a clear message to anyone who tries to undermines the security of the nation”.
Amnesty International, however, expressed shock at the hangings of 15 prisoners – the largest number to be put to death on a single day in Jordan.
“The horrific scale and secrecy around these executions is shocking,” said Amnesty’s deputy director at the group’s Beirut regional office, Samah Hadid.
Momani said all those executed were Jordanians and were hanged in Swaqa prison, south of the capital Amman.
Among the terrorism offences were a 2006 attack on tourists at Amman’s Roman amphitheatre that killed a Briton and a June 2016 attack on an intelligence service base north of the capital that left five agents dead.
They also included the September 2016 murder of Christian writer Nahed Hattar as he stood trial for publishing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam.
King Abdullah II had said in 2005 that Jordan aimed to become the first Middle Eastern country to halt executions in line with most European nations.
Courts continued to hand down death sentences but they were not carried out.
However, public opinion blamed a rise in crime on the policy and in December 2014 Jordan hanged 11 men convicted of murder, drawing criticism from human rights groups.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is an Arab kingdom in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the east and south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel, Palestine and the Dead Sea to the west and the Red Sea in its extreme south-west. Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The capital, Amman, is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural center.