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Iraq executes 12 after PM calls for speedy executions

BAGHDAD - Iraq put to death 12 people convicted of terrorism hours after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for speedy executions in response to the kidnapping and killing of eight members of the security forces, the government said on Friday.

Abadi had ordered late on Thursday "just retribution" through faster executions of all those on death row for terrorism convictions who had exhausted their appeals.

"Based on the orders of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, executions were carried out on Thursday of 12 convicted terrorists who have received final verdicts," a government spokesman said in a statement.

Security forces on Wednesday found the bodies of eight men mutilated and rigged with explosives, two days after a deadline set by their Islamic State kidnappers expired.

The militants had kidnapped members of Iraq's security forces and showed six of them in a video posted online on Saturday, threatening to kill them within three days if the government did not release female Sunni prisoners.

An interior ministry spokesman said autopsies showed the men were killed before the deadline expired and that the video was Islamic State propaganda.

Abadi declared final victory over the hard-line Sunni militants in December, but the group still operates from pockets along the border with Syria and has continued to carry out ambushes, assassinations and bombings across Iraq.

Attacks by the group have picked up in recent weeks, especially on a highway connecting the capital, Baghdad, with the country's north, where the men were taken.
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