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FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, file photo, relatives of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar hold up signs protesting his death, in front of Jordanian Prime Ministry in Amman, Jordan. Nahad Hattar, the writer, had been on trial for posting a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam on social media when an assailant killed him outside the courthouse. The shooter was a former mosque prayer leader motivated by anger over the cartoon, officials said at the time. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)

Jordan executed 10 prisoners for attacks linked to Islamic extremism


Taking on Islamic extremism

Jordan on Saturday executed 10 prisoners with ties to Islamic militant groups who carried out five shootings and a bombing since 2003, the government spokesman said.

Among those killed in the attacks were a British tourist, an outspoken Jordanian critic of Islamic extremism and members of the Jordanian security forces. All had links to Islamic militant groups, he said.

It was the largest round of executions in the kingdom in recent memory.

Saturday's executions were the first since pro-Western Jordan launched a crackdown on Islamic extremism two years ago, in response to the killing of a captured Jordanian fighter pilot by the Islamic State group. Jordan is a part of a U.S.-led military coalition against IS, which holds territory in Syria and Iraq.

The prisoners were hanged at dawn Saturday at Swaqa Prison, about 75 kilometers (47 kilometers) south of the capital of Amman, said government spokesman Mohammed Momani. 

More information on the prisoners

The assailants executed Saturday for terror convictions had been involved in six different incidents, from a 2003 bombing attack that killed 19 at Jordan's embassy in Iraq to the September 2016 shooting of local writer Nahed Hattar on the steps of an Amman courthouse.

'A major step backward'

The rights group Amnesty International said the "horrific scale and secrecy" surrounding Saturday's executions was shocking.

"This is a major step backward for both Jordan and efforts to end the death penalty, a senseless and ineffective means of administering justice," said Samah Hadid, deputy director of the London-based group's regional office in Beirut.

--The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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