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Iran hangs 2 Sunni rebels, drug trafficker

world Updated: Jul 25, 2009 15:00 IST

AFP
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Iran hanged on Saturday two members of a Sunni rebel group blamed for unrest in southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province and a drug trafficker, the state news agency IRNA reported.

The men hanged in a prison in the city of Zahedan were identified as Ayoub Rigi and Masoud Gomshad Zehi convicted of "membership and effective activity in the terrorist group of Abdolmalek Rigi," IRNA said.

The drug trafficker hanged in the same prison was identified as Ahmad Eshagh Zehi.

The Sunni insurgent group Jundallah headed by Rigi has claimed repeated attacks against Iranian government targets in Sistan-Baluchestan, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan and of which Zahedan is the capital.

In the latest major strike, Jundallah claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a Shiite mosque in Zahedan in May that killed 25 people, saying it was a revenge attack for the hanging of members of the Baluch minority.

In mid-July Iran hanged 13 rebels from the group in a mass prison execution.

The latest hangings bring to at least 187 the number of people executed in the Islamic republic so far this year, according to an AFP count based on news reports.

In 2008, Iran executed 246 people, second only to China.

Tehran says the death penalty is a necessary tool for maintaining public security and is only applied after exhaustive judicial proceedings.

Murder, rape, armed robbery, drugs trafficking and adultery are all punishable by death in Iran.