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Iraq's Justice Ministry says 21 prisoners convicted of terrorism and links to Al-Qaeda have been executed.

The ministry said on April 17 that the executions were carried out the previous day by hanging.

It says all the men were Iraqi Al-Qaeda operatives who were involved in bombings, car-bomb attacks, and assassinations.

Iraq has executed 50 people so far this year.

Baghdad has dismissed calls from international human rights organizations to reconsider capital punishment.

Last year, Iraq executed 129 people amid international concerns about the fairness of the trials.

Executions are usually carried out by hanging.

Rights monitoring group Amnesty International ranked Iraq fourth among the top five executioners in the world in 2011, after China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

The United States ranked fifth.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa
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