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Kuwait executes 5 prisoners, including a man convicted in 2015 Islamic State-claimed mosque bombing

Kuwait said Thursday it executed five prisoners, including an inmate convicted over the bombing of a Shiite mosque in 2015 that killed 27 people and was claimed by the Islamic State group.

The inmates were hanged at the Central Prison, Kuwait's Public Prosecution said in a statement. Prosecutors said the five include the mosque attacker, three people convicted of murder and a convicted drug dealer.

One of the convicted murderers was Egyptian, another was Kuwaiti, and the convicted drug dealer was from Sri Lanka. The statement didn't provide the nationality of the mosque attacker or the third convicted murderer, saying only that they were in Kuwait unlawfully.

The 2015 bombing occurred during midday Friday prayers inside one of Kuwait’s oldest Shiite mosques. The Islamic State group, which at the time controlled large areas in both Syria and Iraq, claimed the attack, which was carried out by a suicide bomber. The Sunni extremist group views Shiites as apostates deserving of death.

It was the first militant attack in Kuwait in more than two decades. The attack was likely intended to foment unrest between Kuwait's Sunni and Shiite Muslim populations, but instead it was widely condemned and reawakened a sense of national solidarity not seen since Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of the small, oil-rich country.

The extremist group no longer controls any territory following a grueling military campaign by an array of local and international forces, but continues to carry out sporadic attacks in Syria and Iraq. It also boasts affiliates in several Asian and African countries.

Executions are relatively rare in Kuwait, which put seven inmates to death last November. Before that, the last mass execution was in 2017, when Kuwait executed seven prisoners, including a ruling family member.

The executions last November, which coincided with a visit by a European Commission official, drew condemnation from the European Union and human rights groups, derailing discussions around exempting Kuwaiti travelers from having to obtain EU visas. The 27-member bloc and many rights groups view the death penalty as a form of cruel and unusual punishment that should be abolished.

Kuwait and other Gulf nations are known to carry out executions for murder as well as nonviolent drug-related crimes. Saudi Arabia executed 61 people in the first half of this year, according to the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, and 196 people in 2022, including 81 in one day.

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