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Amnesty International has expressed alarm at reports that the authorities in Saudi Arabia are planning to execute dozens of people in a single day. Already this year, the desert kingdom has carried out at least 151 beheadings, but these would be the first concerning allegations of terrorism. The newspaper Okaz said 55 people were awaiting execution for “terrorist crimes,” while a now-deleted report by the Saudi news outlet Al-Riyadh said 52 would die soon.

The move was immediately condemned by Amnesty International, which said the Saudis are “using the guise of counter-terrorism to settle political scores.”

From The Huffington Post:

Some of those facing execution were affiliated with al Qaeda, Okaz said. Others are from Awamiya, a largely Shi’ite town in the oil-producing Eastern Province where the government has suppressed demonstrations for equal rights.

Diplomats in Riyadh say their governments have been assured Saudi Arabia will not execute Shi’ites convicted after protests.

Awamiya residents responded to the news by closing off roads leading into the city with burning debris, local activists said.

The alleged al Qaeda militants stand accused of attempts to overthrow the government and carry out attacks using small weapons, explosives and surface-to-air missiles, Okaz said.

One prisoner was accused of trying to buy nuclear material in Yemen worth $1.5 million for use inside Saudi Arabia.

The charges against the Awamiya residents include sedition, attacks on security officials and interference in neighboring Bahrain, which has also experienced unrest since 2011.

The Saudi monarchy has in recent years sentenced to death dozens of people convicted of taking part in al Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia from 2003-06 and again in 2009.

Read more here.

SEE ALSO: Saudi Arabia Is Executing a Person Every Two Days on Average

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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