RIYADH: Saudi authorities executed two men on Tuesday, bringing to 98 the number of executions carried out in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom so far this year.

Saudi citizen Ali Assiri, who was found guilty of stabbing a fellow tribesman to death, was executed in the southwestern region of Asir, the interior ministry said.

Pakistani Muhammed Mukhtar, who was convicted of heroin trafficking, was executed in the eastern city of Dammam, the ministry said.

Saudi Arabia imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy.

Most people executed are beheaded with a sword.

There were no be-headings during Ramazan, which began in the kingdom on June 6.

However, executions resumed on Sunday when authorities put a Saudi murderer to death.

Human rights group Amnesty International says the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences last year, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan.

Amnesty's figures do not include secretive China.

The London-based watchdog says the Saudi rate of executions this year is "higher than at the same point last year".

Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for "terrorism" offences on a single day in January.

They included prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, whose execution prompted Iranian protesters to torch Saudi diplomatic missions, leading Riyadh to sever relations.

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