Egypt refers 48 to military trial over twin church bombings

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-21 22:42:06|Editor: yan
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CAIRO, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's prosecution referred 48 suspects accused of belonging to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group to military trials on Sunday over twin church bombings, reported the official MENA news agency.

Dozens of worshippers from the country's Coptic Christian minority were killed in those recent church attacks.

The defendants face charges of forming two IS-affiliated cells in Cairo and Upper Egypt's Qena province as well as participating in a series of explosions against three churches since Dec. 2016.

During New Year's Mass in Dec. 2016, a suicide bomber attacked a small church adjacent to Saint Mark's Cathedral in Cairo's Abassiya neighborhood killing at least 29 Coptic Christian worshipers, mostly women and children.

In April 2017, during Palm Sunday celebrations, the IS-claimed the double church blasts in the Gharbiya and Alexandria northern provinces which left at least 47 dead and wounded over 120 others.

Terrorist attacks in Egypt have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the mid-2013 removal of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by the military in response to mass protest against his one-year rule.

Subsequently, security crackdowns on Morsi's supporters killed hundreds and thousands more were arrested, while his Muslim Brotherhood group was designated as a "terrorist organization" by the new administration.

Most nationwide terrorist attacks, particularly those in the North Sinai province by the Israeli border, were claimed by a Sinai-based group loyal to the IS.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, in his capacity as military chief back then, led Morsi's removal, and declared a war on terrorism which has killed hundreds in recent years, with a similar number of suspects arrested.

Experts believe that the IS started widening the scope of its terrorist operations against the country's Coptic Christian minority in order to pressure the Egyptian government.

The rising terrorist wave in Egypt has negatively impacted the country's economy, causing a sharp decline in vital sources of national income and hard currency, including in the tourism sector and foreign investments.