Saudi news outlets said Sunday a ministerial committee is looking into formally dropping public beheadings as a method of execution in the oil-rich kingdom due to shortages in government swordsmen.
The authoritative daily Al-Watan said in its Sunday edition that the ministerial committee is considering fatal shootings as an alternative.
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According to Saudi daily Al-Youm, the committee argued that such a step, if adopted, would not violate Islamic law, allowing the emirs of the country's 13 local administrative regions to begin using the new method when needed.
"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.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where a death sentence results in beheading in a public square.
There have been calls in the kingdom for replacing public beheadings with lethal injections carried out in prisons.
The kingdom executes anyone convicted of murder, armed robbery, rape and trafficking in drugs.
It has executed 15 people so far this year, 76 last year and 79 in 2011.
There was no official confirmation immediately available of the newspaper's report.
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