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19 Dead in Baghdad Shi'ite Mosque Attack

by VOA News October 19, 2014

A suicide bombing killed 19 people in Baghdad Sunday as an ambush halted an advance by Iraqi forces on a key northern city controlled by Islamic State (IS) militants.

The bombing, at a funeral outside a Shi'ite Muslim mosque, also wounded 28 others, a police officer and medical official said.

"The attacker approached the entrance of the mosque and blew himself up among the crowd,'" the police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Baghdad has been hit by a surge in bombings over the last weeks. Most attacks have been claimed by IS militants, who are Sunni.

In the northern part of the country, Iraqi forces attempted to reestablish control over the city of Baiji, which has been under siege by IS fighters.

Meanwhile, Australia says it has reached agreement to allow 200 members of its special forces into Iraq to help in the fight against the Islamic State. The Australians had been waiting in the United Arab Emirates until Baghdad offered them formal legal protections.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced the accord after a two-day visit to Baghdad. She said the special forces mission would be to advise and assist in building up the capacity of the Iraqi security forces.

UN alarmed over executions

The United Nations says Iraq is carrying out executions at an 'alarming' rate, often after judges ignored claims by defendants that they were subjected to torture to get them to confess.

The new U.N. report Sunday said Iraqi authorities have executed several hundred prisoners since restoring the death penalty in 2005, including 60 in the first nine months this year. It has another 1,724 awaiting execution.

The report said that judges have routinely convicted defendants and sentenced them to death based 'solely, or substantially,' on the weight of disputed confessions or the testimony of secret informants. Most defendants have not had legal representation.

The U.N. said under such circumstances death sentences carry 'the risk of grievous and irreversible miscarriages of justice' if innocent people are executed for crimes they did not commit.

In Iraq, capital punishment applies to a variety of crimes, including acts of terrorism.

Some material for this story came from Reuters.

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