LAHORE - Two condemned terrorists were hanged on yesterday’s anniversary of the Army Public School massacre in which Taliban gunmen killed nine teachers and 132 school children, prison officials confirmed.

They are the first of eight men to face the gallows in prisons throughout Punjab over the next two days as the country grieves over its worst ever terrorist atrocity.

The executions highlight the sharp increase in hangings since the government lifted its moratorium on capital punishment immediately following the December 16th massacre.

Since then 300 people have faced the gallows amid, 17 of whom were convicted of terrorist crimes, according to official documents The sharp increase in executions has provoked international concern - plans to hang a paraplegic convicted of murder in November were abandoned amid a public outcry.

The terrorists who faced executions had attacked military installations and security agencies.

The document also lists the names of seven other terrorists whose appeals are still pending following their convictions in military and Anti-Terrorism Courts.

They include Kamran s/o Muhammad Aslam, Ihsan Azeem s/o Muhammad Azeem, Asif Maroof s/o Muhammad Idrees, Aamir Yousaf s/o Muhammad Yousaf and Nadeem s/o Naeem Khan. . The appeals of Lance Naik Ghulam Nabi s/o Muhammad Ashraf and Abdul Malik alias Muslim s/o Aurangzeb Khan are pending in the high court.

There were more than 5500 convicted prisoners in different jails of Punjab waiting for their fate since their mercy appeals were pending with different courts of the country.

Appeals of about 4000 condemned prisoners were lying with Lahore High Court, about 1000 to 1500 such prisoners have filed appeals wit Supreme Court of Pakistan and 200 to 250 prisoners had filed their mercy petitions with President of Pakistan after rejection of appeals from different courts.

“We have hanged about 300 condemned prisoners during last one year”, said IG Prisons.

The two executed in Central jail Faisalabad yesterday along with a common criminal, were Muhammad Ishaq alias Saqi and Liaqat Hussain. They were both linked to Sipah-e-Muhammad, a sectarian organisation designated as a terrorist group by the Ministry of Interior and the United States.

Four more condemned prisoners will be hanged on Thursday (today) including Naveed Ahmad in district jail, who will be executed in Attock Jail, and Ghulam Muhammad Khan, Mazhar Hussain and Khuda Dad who will be hanged in Central jail Rawalpindi. A further four convicted prisoners will be executed on December 19 - Zahoor and Makhdum in Central jail Sahiwal and Muhammad Anwar and Safdar in district jail Vehari. None of these men were involved in terrorism.