Pakistan issues orders to hang seven more militants: Official

KARACHI (AFP) - Pakistan on Saturday issued orders to hang seven more militants, official said, the latest in a wave of executions in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre, which claimed 150 lives in the country's deadliest terror attack.

Among the seven is Shafqat Hussain, who was 15 when he was sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of a seven-year-old boy in 2004, officials said.

"The courts have issued death warrants for seven convicts," the prison department home secretary in southern Sindh province Nawaz Shaikh told AFP.

"Prisoners Shahid Hanif and Khalil Ahmed convicted for killing government official on sectarian grounds, Zulfiqar Ali for killing 22 policemen deputed at the US Consulate in Karachi and Behram Khan for killing a young lawyer will be hanged on Jan 13, while Shafqat Hussain will be executed for killing a child on Jan 14," Mr Shaikh said.

"Two others, Talha and Saeed, will be given capital punishment for sectarian killings on Jan 15," he added.

Rights groups in the country have opposed Hussain's conviction and sentence saying he should have been tried in a juvenile court and not been given the death penalty, which cannot be imposed on minors in Pakistan.

Pakistan ended its six-years-old moratorium on the death penalty in terror cases last month in the wake of the slaughter at an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Dec 16.

Heavily-armed Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) gunmen murdered 150 people, 134 of them schoolchildren, in the attack, which shocked the world and brought promises of swift and decisive action by the government and military.

Seven convicted militants have been hanged so far since the de facto ban on capital punishment ended.

Six of those executed were found guilty of trying to assassinate then-military dictator Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi in 2003 and the seventh was sentenced in connection with a 2009 attack on the army headquarters.

Pakistani officials have said they plan to hang 500 convicts in the coming weeks, drawing protest from international human rights campaigners.

The United Nations, European Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on Pakistan to re-impose its moratorium on the death penalty.

Rights campaigners say Pakistan overuses its anti-terror laws and courts to prosecute ordinary crimes.