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Yemeni man executed in Riyadh for suicide attack plot

Saudi Arabia on Monday executed a Yemeni man accused of plotting a suicide attack in the kingdom and of links to the Islamic State jihadist group, the interior ministry said.

Saudi Arabia on Monday executed a Yemeni man accused of plotting a suicide attack in the kingdom and of links to the Islamic State jihadist group, the interior ministry said.

The wealthy Gulf country, with one of the world’s highest execution rates, has been the target of a series of deadly IS shootings and bombings since late 2014.

“Mohammed al-Saddam, a Yemeni national, sought to target civilian gatherings at a public facility under the instructions of the Daesh terrorist organisation,” the interior ministry said in a statement, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym.

“The death sentence was carried on Monday in the city of Riyadh.”

It said the man had “pledged allegiance to IS” and was planning a “suicide attack using an explosive belt”, without elaborating on the case or when the Yemeni was arrested.

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The Saudi authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

The number of executions had dropped significantly in 2020, partly due to a moratorium on executions of people sentenced to death for drug trafficking.

But Amnesty International said in August that at least 40 people were executed this year between January and July in Saudi Arabia, more than for the whole of 2020.

A total of nearly 70 people have been executed this year in the kingdom, according to an AFP tally based on official statements.

Saudi Arabia put 184 people to death in 2019, according to Amnesty, which has said it was the highest number recorded in a single year in the country.

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Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s state-run Human Rights Commission said it had documented 27 executions in 2020.

Last year, the HRC also announced that Saudi Arabia was abolishing court-ordered floggings, in a reform move welcomed by rights campaigners.

In November, Saudi Arabia released a man who was arrested as a minor in 2012 after nine years in prison for participating in anti-government protests.

Activists, however, are sceptical that reforms will extend to the release of political prisoners, a pause on a sweeping crackdown on dissent or an end to executions.

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