By The Associated Press

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka's president pledged to end the country's 43-year moratorium on capital punishment and execute condemned drug traffickers amid alarm over drug-related crimes.

The statement on the government's website said President Maithripala Sirisena would order the executions soon but did not say how the prisoners would be executed. Sri Lanka last executed a prisoner in 1976. At the time, prisoners were hanged.

Sirisena's announcement came after he visited the Philippines in January and praised President Rodrigo Duterte's drug crackdown as "an example to the world." Thousands of suspects have been killed in the crackdown that he launched after taking office in 2016, and rights groups have denounced the killings as extrajudicial executions.

The government said Sirisena believes reinstating executions is justified because he says other countries execute prisoners for drug crimes. It said he announced his decision Wednesday in a southern part of the island nation where large amounts of illegal drugs have been discovered.