Riyadh—Saudi Arabia has executed a gang of six Somali men convicted of abducting and robbing taxi drivers in the Red Sea port of Jeddah.
The six men had lured taxi drivers to a remote spot where they hit them and threatened them with knives before robbing them and taking their cars, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
The punishment appeared severe even by the strict code of Islamic sharia law practiced in conservative Saudi Arabia, which calls for the amputation of the right hand for theft.
Execution is usually reserved for murderers, drug traffickers and rapists. The ministry statement said the men were put to death for “sowing corruption in the land and damaging security”.
Jeddah residents say growing numbers of illegal African immigrants, who are either smuggled across the Red Sea or overstay after coming for the Muslim Haj pilgrimage, have triggered a sharp increase in crime in the city.
Monday’s executions, which are usually carried out in public by beheading, brought to at least 36 the number of people executed in Saudi Arabia so far this year—already one more than the number of recorded executions last year.