Authorities executed at least 60, U.N. says

Iraqi authorities have executed at least 60 people this year, a U.N. report said Sunday, expressing concern that “irreversible mis­carriages of justice” were taking place in some death-penalty ­cases.

Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. special envoy to Iraq, urged the government to reconsider its position on the implementation of the death penalty.

He said the high number of executions in Iraq is “alarming, especially since many of these convictions are based on questionable evidence and systemic failures in the administration of justice.”

The U.N. report said the figure accounts for executions in the first nine months of the year. The United States, with a population more than 10 times as large as Iraq’s, has executed 30 people in 2014, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Death sentences in Iraq are applicable for a range of offenses, including acts of terrorism. As of August, about 1,724 Iraqi prisoners were awaiting execution, according to the U.N. report.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber struck near a Shiite mosque in Baghdad’s western district of Harthiya, killing 18 people and wounding 32, police said. Just north of Baghdad, police said a roadside bomb hit an army patrol, killing three soldiers and wounding four.

— Associated Press

3 sightings reported in search for subs

The Swedish military said Sunday that it has made three credible sightings of foreign undersea activity in its waters in the past few days amid reports of a suspected Russian intrusion in the area.

Rear Adm. Anders Grenstad said the armed forces observed the activity in the Stockholm archipelago and nearby coastal area, but he declined to give details of an operation reminiscent of the Cold War, when Sweden’s military routinely hunted for Soviet submarines in its waters.

The military published a photograph taken Sunday by a passerby showing a partially submerged object in the water from a distance, but it was unclear what kind of vessel was in question.

Grenstad said the military had no information about any emergency messages suggesting that a Russian mini-submarine had run into trouble in Swedish waters and could be damaged, as reported by the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

The Defense Ministry in Moscow said its submarines and ships have been “fulfilling their tasks in the world’s oceans” according to plan, Russian news agencies reported.

“There have been no emergencies or accidents with Russian military vessels,” an unidentified spokesman at the ministry was quoted as saying.

— Associated Press

Modi’s party makes gains in state polls

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party made big gains in two state elections, results showed Sunday, an endorsement likely to encourage him to step up the pace of economic reforms.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was set to win 122 of 288 seats in Maharashtra. This more than doubles the party’s seat count in the western state, which is home to the financial hub of Mumbai, but falls short of an outright majority.

The BJP won 47 of 90 seats in Haryana — a state that borders the capital — enough to rule alone.

State elections determine seat shares in the upper house of Parliament, where the BJP and its allies lack a majority. The party hopes for gains in a clutch of state polls between now and 2017 to get toward the majority it needs to pass most legislation without help from the opposition.

Both states were formerly bastions of the Congress party, which has long dominated Indian politics.

— Reuters

Yemen’s Shiite rebels seize town: Shiite rebels in Yemen captured a town south of the capital, Sanaa, and blew up the home of a rival Islamist politician, security officials said. In Sanaa, the Houthi rebels stormed the headquarters of the capital’s local government. The Houthis, who seek a bigger share of power, overran Sanaa last month and captured a key Red Sea port city last week, along with a province south of the capital.

Bomb kills 7 in Sinai: A roadside bomb in Egypt’s restive northern Sinai province killed seven troops and seriously wounded six others, officials said. The explosion ripped through an armored vehicle traveling south of el-Arish, the provincial capital, the officials said. The northern part of the Sinai Peninsula has been a haven for Islamist militants, who have waged regular attacks against security forces.

Rival Koreas exchange gunfire: Troops from North and South Korea exchanged gunfire along their heavily fortified border in the second such shooting in less than 10 days, the South said. There were no reports of injuries or property damage. The exchange came after North Korea opened fire at balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets that were floating across the border.

— From news services