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RIYADH, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia took the unusual step on Wednesday of executing three men for burgling a home and robbing its owner at knifepoint, in a sign of concern in the strict Islamic state over rising crime.
The three men from Myanmar were put to death in Mecca for stealing gold jewellery from the house of a woman who they had tied up to prevent her calling for help and threatened with knives, the official Saudi News Agency said. It said the men sold the jewellery and one of them had carried out previous thefts.
Saudi Arabia usually carries out executions by public beheading for murder, rape, drug smuggling and, increasingly, armed robbery.
Four Sri Lankans were beheaded last February for armed robbery after what U.S.-based Human Rights Watch called a sham trial. The men told the group they were driven by poverty.
Saudi Arabia says it is implementing Islamic sharia law to the letter and that sharia ensures full rights for Muslims and non-Muslims, who must abide by the laws of the desert country.
The Saudi media has talked about a wave of crime which is often blamed on expatriate labour, who account for some 7 million of the 24 million population.
Saudi Arabia suffers sharp disparities in the distribution of wealth.
Ordinary Saudis and foreigners have suffered a rise in the basic cost of living over the past year, as inflation hit 6.5 percent in December.
But the country, an absolute monarchy ruled by the Saudi royal family, is enjoying windfall profits from high oil prices. (Reporting by Andrew Hammond)