Iraq has annouced that it executed 42 terrorism convicts this week, rejecting mounting international appeals to end its extensive use of the death penalty.
The Iraqi Justice Ministry announced the executions Thursday on its website below a photograph of an executioner's noose against a black background. It mentioned that among those executed "for mass killings and other acts of terrorism" was one woman. It also said all of the dead were convicted of terrorism-related crimes.
The ministry statement did not specify the dates of the executions, but the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq said they took place Tuesday and Wednesday.
It also said the activities of the "criminals" had "led to the deaths of dozens of innocent citizens," and were aimed at causing what it described as "chaos and terror among the people."
United Nations data shows more than 5,000 people have been killed in militant attacks in Iraq since April, when Shi'ite-dominated government security forces launched an attack on a Sunni encampment north of Baghdad.
Analysts have repeatedly warned that the surge in violence -- the worst in the country since 2008 -- threatens the return of full intercommunal conflict in a country where ethnic Kurds, majority Shi'ites and Sunni Muslims have yet to agree on a stable mechanism for sharing power.
Amnesty International called the executions an "extremely alarming development," in a statement released on Thursday, and urged Iraqi authorities to immediately declare a moratorium on all executions.
The rights organization said the death penalty in Iraq "continues to be imposed after grossly unfair trials" in which confessions frequently obtained under torture are the basis for guilty verdicts.
Earlier this year, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said Iraq's criminal justice system is, in her words, "too seriously flawed to warrant even a limited application of the death penalty, let alone dozens of executions at a time."