Saudi Arabia has beheaded 71 people in the past four months
A Saudi man smokes his last cigarette before being executed (AFP Photo/Yasser al-Zayyat)

A Saudi national who murdered his father and a drug trafficker were beheaded Thursday, bringing to 71 the number of executions carried out this year in the kingdom, the government said.

The number compares with 87 in the whole of 2014, according to an AFP tally.

Abdullah al-Balawi was beheaded after being convicted of stabbing his father to death, the interior ministry said, cited by the official Saudi Press Agency.

SPA said he had planned the murder, but it did not say what his motives may have been.

The other person executed was Abdullah al-Ruwaili, a Saudi convicted of "smuggling a large amount of banned amphetamine pills," said the ministry.

Both men were executed in the northwestern city of Tabuk.

Amnesty International has criticised a "macabre spike" in the use of the death penalty this year in Saudi Arabia, which the London-based watchdog ranked among the top three executioners in the world in 2014.

Drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death under the kingdom's strict version of Islamic sharia law.