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Iran Executes Up To 20 Kurdish Militants, Drawing Human Rights Criticism

File photo of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
File photo of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Iran has executed up to 20 Kurdish Islamists suspected of attacks on security forces, drawing condemnation from rights groups who say the convictions may have been based on forced confessions.

State news agency IRNA said an unspecified number of Tawhid and Jihad group members were executed on August 2. Rights groups said on August 3 that between 10 and 20 people were killed.

They were convicted of killing two Sunni Muslim clerics, several police and wildlife guards, abducting a number of people, and carrying out armed robbery and bombings in western Iran, IRNA said.

Iranian state television broadcast what it said were the confessions of group members.

Human Rights Watch said "at least 10 prisoners" were executed.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said 20 prisoners had been hanged. It said Iran's Supreme Court had rejected the appeal of one of the convicts, Shahram Ahmadi, despite assertions his confession was made under torture.

Iran's 7 million Kurds, about 10 percent of the population. mostly live in Kurdistan Province and other northwestern provinces on the border with Iraq. Many Kurds seek greater rights for their region.

The area has seen increased clashes between Kurdish militants and government security forces in recent months.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP