Jihadists (illustration)
Jihadists (illustration) iStock

Saudi Arabia said on Saturday it had executed a record 81 people in one day for terrorism-related offences, AFP reported.

The number exceeds the total number killed last year.

All 81 had been "found guilty of committing multiple heinous crimes", the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported, saying they included convicts linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) group, Al-Qaeda, Yemen's Houthi rebel forces or "other terrorist organizations".

Those executed had been sentenced over plotting attacks in the kingdom -- including killing "a large number" of civilians and members of the security forces, the SPA statement read.

"They also include convictions for targeting government personnel and vital economic sites, the killing of law enforcement officers and maiming their bodies, and planting land mines to target police vehicles," it said.

"The convictions include crimes of kidnapping, torture, rape, smuggling arms and bombs into the kingdom," it added.

Of the 81 people executed, 73 were Saudi citizens, seven were Yemeni and one was a Syrian national.

Saudi Arabia has one of the world's highest execution rates, and has often carried out previous death sentences by beheading.

Saudi Arabia regularly announces that it has foiled terrorist attacks and at times executes the suspected terrorists.

In 2018, Saudi security forces neutralized a man who was wearing what looked like an explosive vest in the city of Al-Bukayriyah and wounded him in an exchange of gunfire. The suspect reportedly "adopted Islamic State ideology".

In July of 2017, the kingdom executed four people convicted of terrorism in the eastern part of the kingdom.

The four had been convicted of taking up weapons against the government, joined armed groups and attacked a police station and security patrols.

In late June of that year, the kingdom said it foiled a terror plot targeting the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

Several months earlier, the country’s Interior Ministry said it had arrested at least eight suspected terrorists plotting killings and a car bombing.

Riyadh also said in September of 2016 it thwarted ISIS-linked terrorist operations that planned to target citizens, scholars, security forces and vital facilities nationwide.