An appeals court in Kuwait has upheld the death sentence for a Shiite citizen on charges of communicating with Iran and the Lebanese militant Shiite group Hezbollah to commit "hostile actions" against the country.

The case touches on sensitive sectarian issues in the predominantly Sunni country. Shiites were targeted in an Islamic State attack last year that killed 26 worshippers in Kuwait City.

The case initially involved 26 defendants, including an Iranian national tried in absentia and sentenced to death.

The official Kuwait News Agency said Thursday some defendants were acquitted, without specifying. The local al-Qabas newspaper says the court upheld one life sentence. Others received reduced sentences of four to two years in prison on charges of possessing illegal weapons.

The case can be appealed to Kuwait's Supreme Court.