Egypt Sentences 18 Suspected Islamic State Militants to Life in Prison

Cairo court rules suspects formed a terrorist cell, plotted attacks on the country's Christian minority and assaulted security forces

FILE PHOTO: A burned truck is seen outside Al-Rawda Mosque a day after Islamic State killed hundreds of worshippers, northern Sinai, Egypt, November 26, 2017.
Tarek Samy /AP

An Egyptian court has sentenced 18 suspected militants to life in prison for allegedly forming a "terrorist cell" affiliated with the Islamic State group.

The Cairo criminal court on Saturday sentenced another 12 defendants to 10 to 15 years on charges that include plotting attacks on the country's Christian minority in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, assaulting security forces and disrupting public order.

All sentences are subject to appeal.

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Egypt has been battling Islamic militants for years, but the insurgency gained strength after the 2013 military overthrow of a freely elected but divisive Islamist president.

Since then, courts have held mass trials and sentenced hundreds of people to death.

Rights groups have repeatedly criticized such mass sentencings in Egypt and called on authorities to ensure fair trials.

In February, Islamic State took responsibility for an attck on the Egyptian military in North Sinai, in which numerous soldiers and seven ISIS militants were killed. 

Egyptian security forces launched a campaign a year ago against Islamist militants focused on Egypt's Sinai peninsula, and say they have killed several hundred militants since then.

Since 2013, Islamist militants have repeatedly targeted security checkpoints and Egypt's Christian minority.