Egypt: 48 IS militants referred to court over church bombings

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |  May 21, 2017 at 3:57 PM
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May 21 (UPI) -- Egyptian Attorney General Nabil Sadik on Sunday said he referred 48 suspected Islamic State militants to a military court over the bombing of Coptic churches in which more than 70 people died.

Those accused face charges of establishing two terrorist cells in Cairo and Qena affiliated with the Islamic State that bombed the St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Cairo's Al-Abbasiya neighborhood in December; as well as the bombings in April targeting the Saint Mark's Church in Alexandria and the Mar Girgis church in Tanta.

More than 70 people died in the attacks targeting the Coptic churches. Following the attacks in April, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency.

The suspected militants are also accused of killing and intending to kill church visitors and Egyptian security forces, of making bombs and ammunition and of training with the Islamic State in Syria and Libya.

Sadik also said the militants are also responsible for an attack in Egypt's Western Desert in which eight police officers were killed in January. Thirty-one suspects are in custody while the remaining are at large.

"Terrorism hits Egypt again, this time on Palm Sunday. Another obnoxious but failed attempt against all Egyptians," Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement after the April bombings. "As we grieve the tragic and heartbreaking loss of Egyptian lives, it is still a failed attempt against our unity."

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