17 sen­tenced to death over church bomb­ings

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - World News -

CAIRO. — An Egyp­tian mil­i­tary court sen­tenced 17 peo­ple to death yes­ter­day for their in­volve­ment in bomb­ing at­tacks on three churches and a po­lice checkpoint in 2016 and 2017 that killed more than 80 peo­ple, the state news agency MENA re­ported. The sen­tences are sub­ject to ap­peal. Reuters was not im­me­di­ately able to de­ter­mine whether the ac­cused had en­tered pleas, or to reach their lawyers.

Egypt’s Cop­tic Chris­tian mi­nor­ity, which makes up an es­ti­mated 10 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, has been a fre­quent tar­get of at­tacks and per­se­cu­tion since the upris­ing that top­pled former pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Is­lamic State mil­i­tants claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the Alexan­dria and Tanta bomb­ings, both of which were sui­cide at­tacks on Palm Sun­day in April 2017 and left a to­tal of 45 peo­ple dead.

The group also claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for a De­cem­ber 2016 at­tack on a chapel ad­join­ing St Mark’s, Cairo’s main cathe­dral, that left 28 dead. The cathe­dral is the seat of Cop­tic Pope Tawadros II and its se­cu­rity is nor­mally tight.

MENA said that some of the de­fen­dants were also sus­pected of car­ry­ing out an at­tack on a checkpoint in Egypt’s Western Desert that killed at least eight po­lice­men last year.

A to­tal of 46 peo­ple are on trial in the case, in­clud­ing 15 who are be­ing tried in ab­sen­tia. The re­main­ing 10 ac­cused were jailed for be­tween 10 and 15 years, MENA said.

Fol­low­ing the Palm Sun­day at­tacks in Alexan­dria and Tanta, Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah al-Sisi de­clared a three-month na­tion­wide state of emer­gency. It has been ex­tended and re­mains in force.

Since Fe­bru­ary, Egypt’s mil­i­tary has been con­duct­ing a ma­jor op­er­a­tion against Is­lamist mil­i­tants in the Si­nai Penin­sula, where Chris­tians have also been tar­geted.

Au­thor­i­ties say a crack­down on dis­sent and free­doms is di­rected at ter­ror­ists and sabo­teurs try­ing to un­der­mine the state. — Reuters.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.