BAGHDAD —- Iraqi Shiite militia forces executed 15 Sunni Muslims and then hung them from electricity poles in a public square in the town of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, on Wednesday, police said.
With Iraq sliding ever closer to all-out sectarian civil war, a car bomb exploded near restaurants and shops in the capital's Shiite district of Sadr City, killing 16 people, while another car bomb killed five in Baghdad's Ameen district, police said.
A police officer at the scene in Baquba, a mixed Sunni and Shiite town 40 miles from Baghdad, said he believed the gruesome display of the bodies was designed to warn Sunnis off supporting the Islamic State, an al-Qaida offshoot that has seized swathes of land in an advance through northern Iraq.
The victims, who had been kidnapped over the last week, were shot in the head and chest and then hung up by cables.
“The militia forces are preventing the medical crew from taking down the bodies,” the police officer said.
“They are following a new tactic of keeping bodies hanging for a longer time to deter the Sunni population from backing the Islamic State. We asked them to let us evacuate the bodies but they refused.”
Fighting blocks crash site
AMSTERDAM — Dutch experts trying to recover remains of the victims of the Malaysian plane crash in Ukraine were again unable to access the crash site on Wednesday due to fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces, the head of the Dutch mission said.
Although most bodies have been recovered from the site of the July 17 disaster, which killed all 298 passengers and crew, the Dutch want to recover remains of some victims and personal belongings of the 195 Dutch nationals on board.
Libyans flee fighting
TRIPOLI, Libya —- Rival Libyan militias fighting for control of Tripoli's airport agreed to a temporary ceasefire on Wednesday to allow firefighters to try to control a huge blaze at a fuel depot hit by a rocket.
Meanwhile in Libya's second city, Benghazi, at least 75 bodies, mostly soldiers, were found after two days of fighting in which Islamist fighters and allied militiamen overran an army base.
The past two weeks of fighting have been the worst since the civil war in 2011, prompting Western governments to follow the United States and the United Nations in pulling their diplomats out of the North African country.
Dozens die in mudslide
NEW DELHI— More than 150 people were trapped Wednesday when a massive mudslide swamped a village of 40 homes in western India during heavy monsoon rains, and officials said they had little hope of rescuing many of those missing as weather conditions were likely to worsen today.
A narrow road leading to Malin, a village near Pune, was jammed with residents’ vehicles, preventing rescuers and emergency vehicles from reaching the scene quickly.
The federal environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, emerged from climate change discussions Wednesday afternoon with U.S. officials and dismissed the notion that the mudslide was linked to larger climate problems.
Venezuela officials barred
WASHINGTON — The U.S. government barred a group of Venezuelan officials, including government ministers and presidential advisers, from the United States on Wednesday after accusing them of abuses in a crackdown on protests against President Nicolas Maduro this spring.
Months of demonstrations led by hard-line opposition and student leaders led to violence that killed 43 people in the South American OPEC member nation's worst unrest for a decade.
In Caracas, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua condemned the actions as unjustified and vengeful steps by an “empire" losing influence in Latin America.
— Compiled from wire reports