MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan - Two men convicted of murder were hanged Friday in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the first executions in the Pakistani portion of the disputed territory in more than 10 years.
Mohammad Riaz and Mohammad Fayaz were executed for killing the son of the then-advocate general of Kashmir during a robbery attempt in 2004 in Mirpur, one of Pakistani Kashmir's main cities.
Their deaths bring to 24 the number of people hanged in Pakistan since the government ended a six-year moratorium on the death penalty in December in the wake of a Taliban massacre at a school that left more than 150 people dead.
They are the first people to be hanged since the resumption who have no clear link to a terror attack or militant group. Up to now, those executed had all been condemned by military or special anti-terrorism courts.
"They were hanged at 6:30 this morning. Both of them were awaiting executions since 2012, when all their appeals were dismissed," Irshad Hussain Jarral, jail superintendent in Mirpur, told AFP.
Abdul Hameed Mughal, additional secretary for home affairs in Kashmir, said the executions were the first in the region since January 2005.
"There are 70 other convicts who have been sentenced to death but their mercy petitions are pending with authorities," Mughal said.
Pakistan has stepped up its fight against militants since the Taliban school massacre in the northwestern city of Peshawar in December.
Heavily armed gunmen went from room to room at the army-run school gunning down 153 people, most of them children, in an attack that horrified the world.
When it announced the resumption of executions, the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said they would restart in terror-related cases.
The United Nations, the European Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on Pakistan to re-impose its moratorium on the death penalty.
The fact that Friday's hangings had no obvious link to terrorism is likely to further alarm critics, who have already warned Pakistan overuses its anti-terror laws and courts to prosecute ordinary crimes.