TEHRAN -- Iranian officials on Thursday carried out hangings of nine men convicted of sex and drug offenses, with five of the executions public.
The executions took place in two cities, an International Herald Tribune correspondent reported.
In the northeastern city of Mashad, seven men convicted of abduction, rape and theft were hanged, five of them in front of a crowd. State-run television showed images of the men's bodies slowly turning from the ropes with a graphic saying "Carrying out justice equals increasing security."
In the southeastern city of Zahedan, two men were hanged for armed smuggling of narcotics, the ISNA news agency reported.
The country has stepped up executions in recent weeks after a crackdown on so-called thugs.
Last week, 12 men were hanged in Tehran for sex and drug-related convictions, the report said.
The Amnesty International human rights group claims Iran has executed 143 people this year compared with 177 last year.
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