Saudi Arabia may stop beheadings over shortage of swordsmen

Saudi Arabia is considering halting beheadings in favor of firing squads, as officials report the government is running out of swordsmen to carry out executions.

A joint Saudi committee made up of representatives from the interior, justice and health departments is deliberating the idea, according to Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, citing Saudi newspaper Al-Youm.

"This solution seems practical, especially in light of shortages in official swordsmen or their belated arrival to execution yards in some incidents; the aim is to avoid interruption of the regularly-taken security arrangements," the committee said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia beheaded 69 people in 2012.

In Saudi Arabia, rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are among the crimes punishable by death under Shariah Law, Al-Ahram reports.

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